Consumerism is a growing trend in healthcare and employee benefits. With respect to company-sponsored health plans, it most often refers to offering a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) that is accompanied by lower per-pay premium costs as well as a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), both of which may be augmented by employer contributions and can help defray deductibles and coinsurance.
The terms “consumerism” and “consumer-driven health plan” refer to the fact that employees in these plans often have a lot more choice when it comes to spending their healthcare dollar, thus putting the control back in their hands, rather than in the offices of some giant HMO.
In many cases, especially when the employee is young, single, and healthy, an HDHP can make a lot of sense-mostly because it can save both the employee and the company a great deal of money.
But unfortunately, many employers are finding that when they first offer an HDHP to their employees (alongside more traditional offerings), they are met with chirping crickets-and a very low adoption rate. When other employers have changed over completely to an HDHP, they are often met with confusion and sometimes outright hostility.
Why is this, if an HDHP can be a beneficial option if used correctly? There are a few reasons:
- First of all, HDHPs aren’t the right choice for every employee. Someone with a chronic condition, for example, who needs to visit the doctor often, and perhaps take a number of maintenance prescription medications, will likely end up paying much more out of pocket with an HDHP than with a more traditional HMO, POS, or PPO plan. For that reason among others, it’s probably not the best idea to offer ONLY an HDHP (at least to begin with).
- Lack of understanding. Many employees-and the public at large-have no idea how an HDHP works. If they’re not educated and don’t know how it applies to them, how can they be expected to adopt?
- Fear. Nothing can strike terror into the heart of an employee-especially, say, one with a pregnant wife or a special-needs child-than the thought that his or her medical benefits are being reduced or will cost more.
Fortunately, employers can help mitigate all of these obstacles. First, if at all possible, it makes sense to offer a more traditional HMO or POS plan to accompany a new HDHP-at least for the first few years. As time goes on and understanding among the workforce grows, so will your adoption rate.
Second, COMMUNICATE! Don’t spring the offering on employees, tell them when it’s coming and why. Educate them-send them emails, put booklets in their mailstops, mail postcards to their homes, hold Q&A sessions, and do all of it a lot, as much as your budget allows. Don’t think you’re over-communicating, because there is no such thing.
Here’s an example: Trion’s Communications Practice was able to double one client’s HDHP adoption rate in one year just by enhancing HDHP information in all Open Enrollment materials and holding targeted HDHP webinars.
Let’s face it; change is hard to accept sometimes–especially when it’s unexpected or unplanned. When we hear or read about something being replaced, transitioned or eliminated, we tend to think that it’s a bad thing. Most of the time, it’s downright scary.
In reality, change is constant–happening even when we are not aware. Change is also often necessary when trying to improve or develop new strategies for enhancement.
Looking at change in a more positive light, evaluating its benefits, and learning to embrace it may help us to learn and gain experience in valuable ways. Don’t stress if you have to communicate change during an open enrollment, or anytime throughout the year–you can do this without causing fret or panic.
Here are some good tips that I’ve come across that may help.
1. Allow yourself enough time to strategize about how you will be communicating the new information. Plan early and utilize a variety of communication tools leading up to open enrollment such as emails, open sessions, announcement cards and interactive support tools like checklists and worksheets. This will help to alleviate information overload during enrollment time and make the process easier.
2. Most people appreciate it when things are laid out plain, simple, and to the point. It’s possible to do this, even when you’re talking about communicating the complexities of health insurance. It’s difficult enough for the average person to fully understand how an HMO works, but when you have to tell them that their HMO is now moving to an HDHP with an HSA, you may want to explain this with as much care and clarity as possible.
3. Be as openly honest and straightforward as possible. The strength of how you’re communicating is instrumental when helping employees to see the value of their benefits by conveying a clear and precise message.
4. By being consistent, employees tend to feel less confused and bogged down with the task of trying to figure things out.
When you’re communicating change, it doesn’t have to be thought of as a daunting task to bear. Expressing the value and discussing the advantages of new/different health and welfare plans can lessen anxieties and fear.
In this blog post, I will be talking about my summer internship here at Trion. I truly have found this to be an uplifting and outlandishly positive experience. Reflecting on this past summer, I am blessed to have worked alongside such a unique group of individuals. My time here has reassured me that marketing is the field for me—which is exactly what I set out to do this summer. I am approaching my senior year at Arizona State University and am eager to begin my professional career.
In my opinion, one of the main factors that made this internship so rewarding was the culture here. I found every member of Trion to be extremely friendly, outgoing, and extremely insightful. I gained insight into the Marketing and Communications world while here at Trion that I could not receive anywhere else. There was a wealth of positive experiences while at the same time widening my knowledge in the Marketing and Communications world.
If I was asked to talk about some of my favorite projects this summer it would be tough task, but here are some highlights. One of my favorite experiences was being able to sit in, and be included in, marketing meetings. First, it was really interesting to see all the creative minds that make up Trion. Another aspect I really enjoyed was being able to give my input and have everyone in the room openly listen and consider my ideas. Another project I worked on this summer was formulating an executive summary to be sent with a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP). In addition, I also did extensive work answering RFP’s. There was a new challenge and project every day, which made coming to the office refreshing and enjoyable.
This summer has been a great stepping stone. I believe that I have grown as a professional, and gained valuable and applicable information that has me aligned for success in the near future.
Ryan Barr is a senior majoring in Marketing and Sustainability with a minor in Media Analysis at Arizona State University, in Tempe, AZ. The facet of marketing he enjoys the most is the creative process of coming up with an effective and revenue-generating campaign.
Inspiration is in the air. The world’s best athletes have gathered in Rio to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games for a coveted spot on the podium and some hardware to bring home for their country. The Olympic rings are currently splattered over television screens and billboards everywhere you turn. Brands from CocaCola to Chobani have claimed their own Olympian spokespeople to bring their campaigns to the next level.
My personal favorite part of the Olympics is when the network takes a break from the competition footage to play a back-story or interview with an athlete. It is always interesting to get an idea of who the athlete is as a person and the journey they have been through to get the Games. There is certainly something to be learned from a person who has clearly put in the time and effort to become one of the world’s best at something.
The Olympic phenomenon is built upon the pillars of hard work, dedication and pride in your nation. The competition showcases an incredible 17 days of athleticism, determination, sweat, tears and smiles that is inspirational to say the least. As viewers, we can ride this wave of inspiration and take it on through our personal lives and even into the office.
Nobody made it to the podium by accident. Goals were set. Training plans were established. Dedication and motivation must work together for a desired achievement.
So now it’s your turn – set a goal, determine a plan to reach that goal, and follow through. And you don’t have to start with moving mountains. This goal can be as simple as finally organizing that overflowing file cabinet or as complex as launching a newly designed wellness campaign.
If you start small, you’ll likely find yourself continuing with a series of small improvements that can result in something even greater. The active process of goal-setting keeps you on your toes, and encourages your mind, body, life and company to continue evolving.
So as you tune into a swimming final or some prime time gymnastics, think about how you can get inspired to go for the gold yourself!
My experience as a Trion Marketing and Communication intern was absolutely amazing! The tools I learned will benefit me for the rest of my life.
As I’m wrapping up my final week here, it’s funny to think what could have been if I didn’t decide to work at Trion this summer. To be honest, Trion wasn’t my first choice among the places I was looking to do my internship. I sent in my resume in at my aunt’s and my mom’s request. I just couldn’t really wrap my mind around the idea of a brokerage firm having a communications and marketing team.
My university held a career fair back in March. I applied to several marketing agencies and I got a huge response back. I chose one from all my options and decided to visit and train there over my spring break. Turns out, I didn’t really like it — it was more sales than marketing.
I felt stuck. I felt like I already committed to this place I really didn’t see myself at. But, my mom didn’t raise a quitter, so I kept telling myself, “You have to follow through. You can’t back out now.”
After about three weeks of trying to convince myself I made the right decision, my aunt called me and told me that the HR staff from Trion was trying to reach me for an interview. I was so relieved, but at the same time I felt even worse, thinking I couldn’t pursue this amazing opportunity.
I immediately called my mom for some advice and asked her, “What do I do? I already committed to this other place.”
She said, “Sam, opportunities like this don’t come very often. You need to at least go to the interview and see what it’s all about.”
So I went to the interview, and I fell in love with a company that wasn’t even among my top contenders.
My experience this summer at Trion was one to truly remember. I was treated as an equal part of the team and not just an intern. I couldn’t imagine spending my summer anywhere else. As I begin to say my goodbyes, I want to say thank you to the most amazing people I got to work with this summer. It was truly a blessing. What all of you have taught me will remain with me for the rest of my life. Thank you and the best of luck to all of you!
Samantha Causland is a senior marketing student at Philadelphia University in Philadelphia, PA. The aspect of marketing she’s most interested in is consumer behavior and understanding how to position products so that they appeal to the consumer. Samantha aspires to be the head of a marketing team one day, but for now is looking forward to graduating and landing her first position with a great marketing team.