Who wouldn’t want quality health care, including access to great doctors, reliable and efficient tests, and accurate diagnoses? No one goes to the doctor or hospital thinking, “I really hope I get average care.” Yet when it comes to making actual decisions about their health plans and providers, employees at many companies aren’t thinking about quality as much as they’re considering cost and convenience.
As employers, meanwhile, you have something else on your minds: combining new payment models with benefit design to improve the quality of the plans you’re offering. And, at the same time, decreasing unnecessary spending. Fortunately, the nonprofit Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) focuses on unraveling these tough issues. The organization supports a series of collaborative large-employer workgroups to brainstorm solutions.
Getting employees engaged in new approaches is key to the success of any big change in the way health care is provided. We were honored to serve as an outside expert for CPR’s latest collaborative, which produced a communications toolkit to help employers successfully roll out high-value health plans (read: quality care at a fair price). The toolkit includes:
- An infographic to help purchasers quickly and easily understand what many employees really care about when it comes to high-value health care
- Our “Best Practices Tip Sheet” to help you design and market your health plans
- Five common employee profiles to assist with targeting your messaging
- Detailed key messages for employees and dependents that cover topics such as cost, quality, provider networks, experience, enrollment, and more
- A post-annual enrollment survey that can help you better understand your employees’ needs and then use the findings to inform your ongoing communications strategies
Working with the Collaborative
We worked with 3 employers in vastly different industries over the course of 12 months and met monthly to address defined strategic objectives. First, we gained a common understanding of the health care landscape and the factors that can hinder employee engagement. Next, we moved into open enrollment best practices in both communication and plan design to ensure the new, high-value plans would have the best chance of success. Following enrollment, we shifted our focus to best practices for communicating year-round and applying them for these high-value plans.
Throughout it all, there was a lot of sharing going on. We talked about the latest trends in benefits communication around behavioral economics and financial wellness, while our employer partners contributed their experiences. At the end, we all learned from each other.
Gaining Traction on High-Value Health Care
Through the collaborative, we aimed to overcome two challenges:
- Encouraging employees to enroll in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), which is a type of high-value health plan
- Getting employees to engage throughout the year
Encouraging Employees to Enroll
We began by understanding the barriers you may be up against that prevent employees from considering or changing medical plans during open enrollment. For example, when we surveyed employees who worked at the companies participating in the collaborative, we learned that one major reason employees didn’t want to change plans was that they weren’t sure if their doctor was in the new plan’s network. The takeaway: Make it easy for employees to search for doctors, and if a provider isn’t in the network, explain why you chose not to include them. Using the post-enrollment employee feedback survey included in the toolkit can help you uncover the issues you may be up against at your company.
Clearly showing the cost differences in the new plan—and how it’s better—can help sway employees, as well. When deciding to make a change of any kind, the potential benefits must be much greater than the potential obstacles. Requiring active enrollment can help on this front to ensure employees pay attention to your message.
And don’t forget: You’re competing with lots of other health care messaging that’s vying for your employees’ attention. To break through the noise, you’ll need to develop multi-channel communication campaigns that are targeted, simple, and fully branded.
Engaging Employees Year-Round
Once employees are enrolled in the new health plan, the real work begins. Ensure your communication infrastructure (think intranet and benefits website) is up to date. Work with your communication partners to build out a suite of educational materials so employees understand how to maximize the plan, find providers, and more. Finally, map out targeted communication campaigns throughout the year to better help employees.
It takes effort to make headway in an area as meaty as health care, but by better understanding your employees and leveraging these best practices, you can drive enrollment into high-value health plans.
Interested in the toolkit? It’s available to download on the Catalyst for Payment Reform website.
We're proud to work with large employers who recognize the business value of engaging employees in benefits. If you want to learn more, contact us.