In the second post in our three-part series, Broker Breakthroughs, benefits brokers and consultants will learn how to help clients improve their enrollment strategies and increase employee adoption of High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
[Part 1 in the series, Cut Clients’ Costs and Add Value with HSA Programs, is also available on this blog.]
Modern brokers and consultants are expected to present clients with benefits programs that meets employees’ needs, help HR with recruiting and retaining top talent, and still save the company’s bottom line.
That’s a big job. But there’s a tool in your benefits toolbox that – when used the right way – is perfectly suited for getting it done: the Health Savings Accounts (HSA).
The best practices—“broker breakthroughs”—presented in this blog series will help you further refine your approach to becoming indispensable in the eyes of your clients as you guide them to smart, cost-saving decisions through High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), HSAs, and beyond.
Broker Challenge: Need to Help Clients Enroll More Employees in a Cost-Saving HDHP/HSA
Continuing the theme of increasing HDHP and HSA enrollment to drive lower employer costs from Part 1 of Broker Breakthroughs, we do not want to overlook the “HD” in HDHP.
Despite the lower premiums the HDHP plan presents, we are all well aware that the prospect of a high upfront deductible at the beginning of the plan year can scare participants, especially new plan enrollees when HSAs can reflect a zero balance.
But what if your clients could provide accelerated funding options that would make HSA funds available for use to employees on day one of the plan year?
Innovative HSA administration allows accelerated funding of HSAs, enabling employees to access future contributions before they are deposited into their account. This “On Demand” funding strategy has positive impact to employees and employers on many levels.
Broker Breakthrough: Evaluate More Innovative HSA Administration Solutions
Of the applicable HSA client population participating in ConnectYourCare’s Consumer-Driven Health Plan Enrollment & Usage Trends survey, 70% indicated that accelerated access to HSA contributions had an impact on their decision to enroll in an HDHP/HSA.
The statistic is very telling in that there is clearly an overarching concern for having funds available at the start of a plan year to help offset the high deductible.
To help your clients allay employee high deductible fears and successfully drive HDHP adoption, educate them on the advantages of incorporating innovative HSA “On Demand” accelerated funding strategies.
Accelerated funding can serve as a safety net for HSA account holders, right at the point of service—whether it’s a routine trip to the pharmacy or for an unforeseen medical event.
The accelerated funds, which can consist of employer contributions, employee contributions, or both, are repaid through future employee payroll deductions.
Different than traditional front-end “seed” funding, acceleration entitles employers additional control and flexibility, all while taking risk and cash-flow challenges out of the equation.
Contribution timing allows employers to maintain funds in their accounts throughout the plan year, while only funding HSAs for employees that need the money to pay claims.
Accelerated funding becomes even more enticing when coupled with a comprehensive communications plan: employers bundling both together are realizing an HDHP plan adoption rate (62%) that doubles the national average (31%).
In an effort to maintain a pro-consumer edge, more and more forward-thinking employers are embracing these innovative strategies and realizing significant returns in the form of plan savings and employee satisfaction.
HSA On Demand® was a key part of our strategy in addressing colleagues’ concerns around cash flow and the ability to pay for care, particularly earlier in the plan year. This was an investment that we needed to make.
Are your clients jumping on the consumer movement?
To make it easier, consider adding a flexible “On Demand” plan design to your toolbelt.
Teach your clients all about accelerated funding and its impact on HDHP as the favorable plan option come enrollment time.
Broker Challenge: Clients’ Open Enrollment Fairs May Not Be Driving Results
The not-so-pretty truth about enrollment fairs is that they are costly, can be a resource drain, and may not actually be effective.
According to ConnectYourCare’s trends survey, which polled over 14,000 workers, less than 3% who elected a voluntary tax-advantaged account (Health Savings or Flexible Spending Accounts) said that an enrollment fair was the most valuable resource when making their enrollment decision.
Broker Breakthrough: Re-Evaluate Enrollment Strategies with Clients
Take the time to discuss current enrollment fair strategies with your clients. Open enrollment is certainly a marathon and not a sprint, requiring year-round planning and logistics.
Ask your clients:
- Is it truly worth the time and investment they are currently putting into fairs?
- How are they currently measuring the ROI on these efforts?
- Are the fair locations conducive to workers?
- And, conversely, are there other ways they could be more effectively motivating employees?
Data to be armed with when having this conversation: nearly 40% of participants who took part in the aforementioned ConnectYourCare survey indicated that previous experience with a tax-advantaged account influenced their decision to enroll.
Moreover, 22% of this survey population cited effective communications; 17% referred to self-service tools like savings calculators; and 12% said they took advice from family and friends.
Ask your employers to consider their population:
- Do they have a lot of young workers who may be more prone to reach out for advice on social networks and user forums?
- Are employees involved in shift work or based in the field, by which an enrollment fair may be distracting or cause disruption to their day?
And remember that 3% figure for enrollment fairs. We’ve seen other studies express similar findings, so there is consistency in the industry when it comes to big-ticket productions falling flat with employee impact.
Alternatively, consider exploring the idea of virtual fairs with your clients.
These events are proving to have a wider impact on employees’ understanding of benefits options, all at a significantly lower price point, considering the costs entailed with enrollment kit creation, postage and delivery, and travel-related expenses for remote workers and those in other locations.
Another strong alternative would be to guide your clients through an ongoing enrollment communication plan that leverages proven communication practices that resonate across the entire generational spectrum, coupled with creative, attention-grabbing mediums, such as short video vignettes, infographics, and first-person user stories based on actual participants.