Open enrollment season’s in full swing again and Frenkel is a hive of activity. Employee communications and enrollment websites are under construction in preparation for 2019 employee benefits selections. Clear and meaningful communications are our forte, but national data demonstrates that much health information out there today is too difficult for average Americans to comprehend, making proper health decisions a challenge and affecting overall healthcare spend.
Healthcare institutions and public health systems play a critical role in health literacy, but the role of employers in improving healthcare literacy is significant as well. It comes as no surprise that health plan literacy is top-of-mind for many human resources teams at this time of year.
Most organizations know they need to mold employees into informed healthcare consumers, but the problem is they don’t always know where to start. The good news is that improving employee health literacy does not always require additional resources.
Here are a few ways we suggest our clients approach this important responsibility:
- Don’t recreate the wheel. Enhancing the effectiveness of the education already being provided and ensuring communication is being delivered clearly and at the appropriate literacy level may do the trick.
- Work smarter. Employers can strategically leverage data in ways that make sense for their population, goals, and budget. Focus on forms of targeted communication to drive employee action. For example, creating multiple versions of a piece based on how employees fall into larger segments e.g. employees who spend their HSA balance each month versus those who let it grow over time, or those who fall somewhere in the middle.
- Deliver information in a comfortable way. Different people prefer different types of outreach depending on their age, education, technological abilities, and other factors. Based on your workplace demographics, offer health information resources that speak to your employees. Some value in-person meetings, while others want online information.
- Listen and get feedback. Put out a quick survey and let your employees tell you which health plan topics they grasp and which will require more education. Once you know what your employees need and want you can take it from there.
If you still need more ideas, look around with an eye toward what other organizations are doing. At Frenkel, we’re making this simple for our clients with pulse surveys which provide quick snapshots and gauge opinion on areas like health literacy – and other interesting benefit strategy such as telecommuting policies, employee stock purchase programs, and retiree medical. Consider the data and weave the takeaways into your strategy. We are here to help you put it all together and come up with a game plan.