Health plans and employers nationwide worked hard this year to stay in sync with all of the changes and news around the Affordable Care Act. It wasn’t easy. But for those innovative organizations that leveraged an online marketplace to drive their benefits strategy, it was an opportunity to engage consumers and employees in new ways.
I sat down with a handful of our carrier and employer clients and asked one (seemingly) simple question: What were the big lessons you learned this year in successfully implementing a benefits exchange?
Some of the top responses are below.
Top Lessons for Health Plans
- Keep Your Internal Team Dedicated and Focused – The key to success is a focused team with clear leadership and goals that guide the process from RFP to implementation.
- Diligent Broker Outreach and Education – Provide a comprehensive training and go-to-market strategy for your benefit administrators and brokers. Consider creating or leveraging a broker advisory council and identify early adopters from the start of the process, and position your team for early enrollment successes. People support what they help create – bring your best brokers into the process.
- Invest in Automation – Make the enrollment process as hassle-free for your internal team as possible. This may include implementing single-sign-on capabilities, standardizing group census data loads and integrating with systems such as Facets.
Top Lessons from Employers
- Plan Ahead – In a nutshell, you need time to drive change in an organization, especially when it comes to a benefit so important to employee satisfaction as their healthcare coverage.
- Engage Key Management Stakeholders Early – When your leadership team is properly engaged, they can consistently deliver a similar message to employees – which makes everyone better prepared.
- Provide Consistent Employee Education and Communication – Effective communication includes open enrollment communication and beyond. Engage employees throughout the year, letting them know that there are resources available to them regarding their healthcare should they have questions or experience a new life event, such as having a baby.
- Consider Defined Contribution – With a defined contribution strategy, employees can significantly change the way they think about benefits and the choices they make. Ultimately, it shifts more of the decision-making authority to them and gives them the opportunity to put together a customized package to suit their own needs and preferences. As a result, they are more engaged in determining how they want to spend their money, while at the same time giving you – the employer – more predictability over costs.
Bottom line (from our perspective) – When it comes to launching a benefits marketplace and ensuring your healthcare strategy is successful, it’s not about pushing costs around. It’s about pushing value to people, by allowing employees to tailor their coverage to meet their varied needs — across health and a range of ancillary benefits — and taking into account who they are, their attitudes about benefits and how they intend to use their coverage.