If you’re considering adopting a CDHP or High Deductible Health Plan, here are four steps to success:
One: Anticipate Employee Pushback
Expect to hear: “You mean that every time I go to the doctor, someone is going to send me a bill? I have to pay $2,500 before I get any coverage? I have to open and pay into a savings account in addition to paying my premium and co-pay? Why should I do this?”
Having a ready answer to these objections will determine the success of your introduction. The most successful introductions we have seen are those where the employer creates the strong perception that the new plan can be cost-effective while not reducing coverage.
Two: Hold the Technical Jargon—Communicate Value
I advise clients to forgo formal descriptions when introducing the change. Your first communications should present the new plan in a brief elevator pitch that outlines the structure and links it to value. Here’s an example of what I mean:
The Ajax Company’s Consumer Focused Health Plan is a new approach to medical coverage that pairs your medical plan with a savings account to help you pay out-of-pocket expenses. Even though you pay a higher deductible with the new plan, it can actually provide substantial savings without reducing the quality of care you receive. The company will help fund your savings account! If you don’t use all of your funds, the money is yours to keep, even if you leave the company.
Three: Communicate Early and Often
The tried and true rule of effective communication is: Tell them what you are going to say. Then say it to them. And then tell them what you told them. This is especially important when introducing a CDHP. In fact, you have to begin communicating far in advance to let employees know the CDHP is coming, why it is being introduced, and how simple it will be to participate in it.
The biggest takeaway for you here is that your CDHP introduction cannot start at open enrollment. If you know about the change a year in advance, begin the familiarization process then.
If you do your job, the CDHP will be seen as old news by the time you get to enrollment.
Four: Address Your Employees as Partners
Frenkel’s deeply held philosophy is that employees are partners in managing health benefits. When it comes to cost containment, they are the prime movers: Activate them! This means making sure you share the strategic picture with them—how your company fits into the changing healthcare landscape and what the future may hold for the health benefits they enjoy today.
There are many details to work out, I know, but these four considerations should be on the table at your planning sessions. As for the rest, well that’s what you have communications people for.