A 2021 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that high-deductible health plans are the second-most common plan type among workers, behind only preferred provider organization plans. Per the survey, 28% of workers have an HDHP with a savings option — such as a tax-advantaged health savings account or health reimbursement arrangement.
Studies show that employees often do not have a firm understanding of how their health insurance works. This is especially true for HDHPs, as these plans are not only consumer driven but also typically paired with a savings option. Therefore, if you offer an HDHP, it’s important to educate employees about the plan, as this is essential to participation and engagement.
Next are tips for accomplishing this.
Explain in simple terms how an HDHP works
The key to effectively communicating about an HDHP is to keep it simple yet sufficiently informative. Provide vital information about how the plan works but avoid overwhelming employees.
For example, explain the following attributes of the plan:
- Higher annual deductibles.
- Lower monthly premiums.
- Higher out-of-pocket limits.
- Coverage options and services.
- Enrollment periods.
Consider placing the information in an easy-to-read chart or a similar type of graphic. Be sure to include minimum and maximum cost limits.
Address specific scenarios that employees may encounter
For example, explain how the HDHP works with doctor visits, trips to the emergency room, specialty providers and prescription drugs.
Describe how the savings options work
If you offer an HDHP, you’ll likely pair it with an HSA or HRA. It’s critical that employees understand the tax benefits of the savings option plus any other advantages. For example, an HSA belongs to the employee and they can take it with them when they leave the company. It can also be used as a retirement savings tool.
Be clear about how the HDHP functions with the HSA or HRA
Provide hypothetical examples of how the HDHP works with the HSA or HRA so employees can see the hard-dollar savings they stand to gain. Also show them how the money in the HSA or HRA can help them pay for their health care bills.
Develop side-by-side comparisons of the HDHP and other plans
Create a chart that shows employees how the HDHP stacks up cost-wise against any other health insurance plans that you offer. Stick to the basics by comparing only the up-front costs, such as deductibles, out-of-pocket limits and premiums.
Use various communication channels
Make the information easily accessible by utilizing different communication methods, such as a website, digital booklets, print and email. These channels can also be used to keep employees updated on changes to their HDHP and savings options.
Give employees a reliable point of contact
It’s almost guaranteed that employees will have questions regarding their HDHP on a continuous basis. Make sure they know whom to contact for more information.