Author: Mikal Jeffries, CEBS, Vice President, Benefits Consultant
More than one-third of employees (35%) don't understand their healthcare coverage. To make matters worse, 62% say their employer isn't providing adequate education and assistance. How well do your employees understand their employer-sponsored university healthcare coverage? Are they truly optimizing the benefits that they deserve and you pay for? Your faculty and staff are caring for the well-being of students and you should be caring for theirs, too.
When your staff isn't using their coverage correctly, they risk paying too much for care or, worse, not getting care due to its cost. If your employees don't know where to go and how to access care, they get sick and can't support your campus community well. Plus, they may have a negative impression of your campus' benefits package and you incur more claims payouts, resulting in higher premiums that make your plan less competitive.
These issues are easy to prevent: all you need is education. As a higher learning institute, you have the tools to educate; all you need is to apply that learning to your staff.
Where to Focus Your Efforts
There are a few areas to focus on when it comes to employee benefits education. These are areas of confusion or misinformation that have the most impact on your employees. These areas include:
- When open enrollment occurs and what life events should prompt them to update their plans
- The difference between HSAs and FSAs and they function
- How on-campus health centers and other offerings integrate with their plans
- What mental health resources are offered and how to access them
- How collective bargaining contracts impact or coincide with health benefits
This is not an exhaustive list of what to include in your university healthcare education session. Each institution is different. Work with your benefits team and your healthcare consultant to understand the most important areas for your employees.
How to Educate and Improve
Once you know what to teach, you need to work on how to teach it. The methods and tools your faculty use can be used here as well. Some tools we find most effective with our campus clients are:
We recently piloted an interactive webinar program for open enrollment that included a live presenter video, PowerPoint slides, a question widget, and an embedded survey to gain feedback throughout the presentation. This format gave participants human interaction and real-time feedback on what they needed to know – all from their desks. The presentation was recorded so employees could return to it as a refresher when it came time to make their plan decisions.
Live-action or animated videos are a great way to keep the viewer's attention. POWtoons are a specific type of animated video explicitly created to educate and inform. The HORAN team recently used animated videos to help explain High Deductible Health Plans. We also utilized a vlog (video blog) series to help individuals transition back to in-office work following the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Podcasts are everywhere in 2021, and you can take advantage of this easily accessible media platform. With a podcast, you can go in-depth on important healthcare topics, and your employees can access that information when convenient for them. They can listen in the car, during their lunch break, on a walk – whenever they have the time and attention to devote to really understand the topic at hand. The HORAN team's popular "Benefits: What Like it's Hard?" podcast covers several topics such as Open Enrollment 101 and a two-part series on HSAs.
A final important factor in health benefits education is the need to circle back. Regardless of the methods you use, you need to use them repeatedly. The more often you offer educational tools, the more likely people will use them.
How HORAN Campus Health Can Help Educate Your Staff
HORAN Campus Health is part of HORAN's 75-year employee benefits consulting team, bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and proprietary partnerships to every campus we serve. Let us support your campus and explore new horizons in health benefits with our expert consultants, helping you enhance employee wellbeing for years to come.