When you invest company dollars into your employees’ health benefits, it can be confusing and a little frustrating when you notice your employees aren’t fully utilizing the benefit, or worse, not signing up for the plan at all.
This is especially challenging if you have strict minimum participation requirements you’re trying to meet for a group health plan or if you have invested the time and effort to set up other benefits but are seeing low participation.
So what’s an employer to do when employees aren’t excited by their benefits? In this article, we offer four tips on how your employees can make the most of their benefits and you can make the most of your benefits dollars.
Jump to the section you’re interested in below:
- Tip #1: Educate your employees about their health benefits
- Tip #2: Survey your employees about their health benefits
- Tip #3: Supplement your group health plan with a GCHRA
- Tip #4: Add employee stipends to your group health plan
Tip #1: Educate your employees about their health benefits
According to a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by ValuePenguin, more than half of respondents were unable to correctly define basic health insurance terms, including premium, deductible, and copay. So chances are, many of your employees don’t fully understand how your group health insurance plan works.
By making an effort to educate both new hires and your current employees about how your health plan works, the more likely they’ll be able to successfully utilize their benefits.
For example, your HR team could hold quarterly meetings with a representative from your insurance provider to give employees a chance to ask their questions in person and put a face to the name.
In addition, you could send out monthly health benefits spotlights to highlight a feature of your health benefits that your employees may not have found out about otherwise. By doing this, employees continue to learn more about their benefits even after they’re first hired.
Tip #2: Survey your employees about their health benefits
One of the best ways to figure out why your employees aren’t fully utilizing their health benefits is to simply ask them. Sending out employee benefit surveys once or twice a year is an easy way to get a pulse-check on how your employees feel about their benefits, whether or not they understand them, and if they think something is missing.
After you’ve sent the survey out, take the responses and update your plan accordingly. If you notice a lot of employees aren’t utilizing your free gym membership, it may be time to swap out that benefit for something your employees are more interested in.
Tip #3: Supplement your group health plan with a GCHRA
One of the biggest reasons an employee may not be participating in your group health plan is simply because they feel it’s too expensive. In fact, Bankrate found that nearly 1 in 3 Americans in 2020 opted out of medical coverage because of cost.
While offering a high deductible health plan (HDHP) may help lower the monthly premium, that still leaves employees with a lot of out-of-pocket healthcare costs. That’s why supplementing your group health plan with a group coverage health reimbursement arrangement (GCHRA) is a great option.
With a GCHRA, often also called an integrated HRA, you can offer your employees a monthly allowance of tax-free money to use on qualifying healthcare expenses, including deductibles and copays. What’s more, employees can use their GCHRA on expenses that may not be covered with your group health plan, including mental health counseling, family planning, and more.
Tip #4: Add employee stipends to your group health plan
The last thing you want to consider when looking to increase participation in your company health benefits is adding employee stipends to your benefits package. A stipend is an additional set of funding you offer employees outside of their regular pay to cover other employee benefits. Stipends are usually taxable, just like an employee’s wages.
Popular stipends include a cell phone or internet stipend, health and wellness stipends like gym memberships, or even child care stipends to help cover the cost of daycare.
Increasing participation in your health benefits may seem tricky at first, but all it really boils down to is offering a health benefits package that your employees are excited about. By sending a survey to figure out what benefits your employees value most, reevaluating your plan to make sure it’s affordable, or supplementing your plan with added perks and benefits, you’ll be well on your way to offering a comprehensive benefits package that will help you recruit and retain your best employees.