The Foundation of True Benefits Engagement? Trust

A survey last fall sparked a conversation about consumer trust, and it hasn’t stopped.

The 11th annual Trust Index survey by ReviveHealth reported a key piece of information for HR professionals: Average consumers gave their health insurers a trust score of 69 out of 100, significantly lower than their ratings for hospitals or physicians. If there’s a lack of trust in the industry behind the most expensive benefit you provide, that can be a risk to any business in terms of cost, recruitment, and retention.

Establishing that foundation of trust

To find and keep the best employees, trust is your currency. It begins with making current, unbiased information available to your enrollees. But there’s another step, and it’s an important one for establishing the best offerings in terms of relevance and cost: constant, granular feedback 365 days a year.

When approximately 90% of workers don’t change the benefits they selected when they were hired (and nearly as many don’t spend even an hour thinking about changes during future open enrollments), there’s a question of whether or not insurers are yet able to provide the sorts of objective recommendations consumers truly need. Innovative, third-party advisors providing live or online benefits guidance are growing in popularity for that reason. Employees get advice they feel they can trust, and benefits managers get consistent feedback on utilization data.

You don’t need to build demand—it’s already there

The most recent Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) annual study on health and voluntary workplace benefits indicated that two-thirds of respondents would welcome benefits advice from such independent providers. “Many workers state that they would take advantage of benefits advice, either through a third-party benefits advisor provided at no cost (21 percent extremely likely and 37 percent very likely) or an online program offered at no cost (21 percent and 36 percent),” according to the survey.

From that point, it’s about finding the right mix of personalization, quality information, and ease of use in the solution you choose.

It’s all about the users

Let’s begin with that personalization point. A recent Deloitte study stated that one in three consumers want products that are personalized. That goes beyond custom clothing or a bicycle produced with the aid of a 3D printer. It’s pivotal to better benefits choices as well.

For one thing, it redefines the open-enrollment model. Instead of expecting your employees to page through handouts of one-size-fits-all explanations, third-party solutions that exist today can measure choice throughout the year with a feedback system that allows real engagement with your entire audience.

For example, the right navigator can break down health insurance choices not only by physician/hospital availability and provider quality, but by personal preferences in copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and paycheck deductions. Employees can access these personalized choices in a way that feels secure and toggle between them at their convenienceto make selections during open enrollment and to plan future choices.

A recent Frost & Sullivan study says customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. This statement has great resonance for service providers in general and benefits managers in particular.

In our view, the quality of your employee experience determines your level of trustor the lack of it.

Accessing benefits in a trusted way

Obviously, no two people are alike when it comes to health or medical decision-making. Many employers see that as an inevitable obstacle and succumb to the one-size-fits-all option: provide all things to all people. But when an unbiased, third-party source can offer that much-needed tracking of each employee’s individual set of priorities, better benefits engagement, usage, and cost control follow suit.

Let’s go a little deeper: Say you have an employee signed up for a suite of health-related benefits, including certain doctor and hospital choices, related prescription coverage, and fitness discounts. Maybe this person sees their primary care physician annually, but never joins the gym where your employer discount applies. The right third-party system doesn’t just measure doctor’s visits and prescription costsit measures usage of all the benefits you’re making available to cut those costs.

The result for the employee? Relevant recommendations that lead to meaningful behavior changes.

Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.” When it comes to something like the benefits that affect people’s lives, taking the time to build trust with employees pays off. HR professionals who provide tools that offer unbiased guidance are the ones who can count on higher utilization, more value from their benefits, and greater trust from employees.

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