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Sutter Health Plus Advises Three Employer Takeaways for Open Enrollment 2017

Posted by on Oct 17, 2016 in Affordability, People

More than 150 million Americans get their health coverage through employers, according to The Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust 18th annual Employer Health Benefits Survey (September 2016).

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and employer opinions. Overall 56 percent of employers offered health benefits to their workers in 2016.

Sutter Health Plus, a not-for-profit HMO affiliated with Sutter Health, offers a few effective ways for employer groups to manage the complex benefit selection process during open enrollment season.

Here are three takeaways for employers as deadlines approach for open enrollment 2017:

1. Use a broker who has your company’s best interest in mind and will stick with you for the long haul. View a broker as a health benefit advocate, who will help guide you as an employer to select a benefit policy, negotiate on your behalf with health plans, and understand the rapidly changing health care industry. Employer groups of all sizes need an advocate to help answer the tough questions employees can ask about claims, changes in premiums, and general service issues.

Ensure your broker is obtaining premium quotes from carriers that best fit the needs of your business/company, and spells it out so you can communicate those benefits back to your employees. Look to your broker for help with enrollment forms, validating that employees are enrolled in the right plans, and ensuring employees receive benefit plan documents and member identification cards.

2. Evaluate health care benefit options with your key leadership throughout the year. It’s one thing to have the Human Resources manager serve as the go-to resource for general questions on benefits, but for the large decisions about changes to benefit packages that will affect costs, it’s important involve senior leadership. Set up and enforce a leadership mandated meeting to discuss all health plan changes in advance of pending deadlines.

Additionally, always have your employees’ best interests in mind when making key health plan decisions. It’s especially important that large groups create and administer an employee survey to evaluate their workforces’ health care status and needs.

3. Effectively communicate and educate your employees on what matters to them. Your employees are likely struggling to manage their health care. Due to the changing marketplace, they may be overwhelmed and not know what questions to ask. It’s vital to engage your employees. Ensure they have a voice in the decisions that will affect them. Conduct quarterly education meetings with the help of your broker to review basic information on health care reform, laws, mandates, covered services, and network providers. You shouldn’t expect employees to read through pamphlets and understand them. Meetings will invite a conversation about what matters to them and encourage them to ask questions.

By planning ahead with experts by your side, this year’s open enrollment period will be more manageable and your employees will appreciate the extra effort to involve them in the process.

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