Throughout our lives, there will be moments when we need to step back and evaluate — whether it’s our performance on the job, our personal relationships or our spending habits — to determine if we can make improvements. Ideally, employees should take the same approach in the months leading up to the benefits open enrollment season. That said, now is the perfect time for benefit advisers to sit down with clients to evaluate their employees’ benefits usage and confirm whether or not their clients’ and employees’ needs are met.
Ensure the basics are covered
While having conversations with clients about how many workers have taken advantage of the benefits being offered and which benefits have been utilized the most, it may be helpful to go over the basics of the policies as a refresher. A 2016 Aflac study found that more than half (53 percent) of employees understand some, little or none of their coverage. Knowing that workers sometimes make benefits decisions without fully understanding the implications, this is an opportunity for benefits advisers to provide clients with the best information to educate employees. By helping clients and, in turn, employees, understand the who, what, when and why of coverage, an adviser can positively impact benefits selection and usage.
1. Who? Consider that the average worker spent $132 more in health insurance benefits in 2015 than the previous year and 25 percent of Americans have had difficulty paying a medical bill due to high medical costs. With this in mind, it’s very important for employees to feel at ease knowing who is covered under their policies, as well as what factors can impact who is eligible for certain coverage. For instance, some insurers have made recent updates to their hospital indemnity product to include first-child coverage after a birth. Benefit advisers can help alleviate confusion by highlighting to employers and their employees the policies that cover children, spouses and, in some cases, in-laws.
2. What? Employers don’t always have the resources to effectively communicate everything that’s included in benefits packages. As trusted advisers, this is an opportunity to provide clients with background information, tools and other resources that can help educate workers so they can be protected from both a health and financial perspective.
3. When? Since there are sometimes nuances around when certain products can be used, insurance can quickly become confusing to employers and employees alike. In some cases, coverage may need to be in place for a certain period of time before benefits are paid. Providing examples to clients of when workers might want to use one solution over another, especially if they have more than one product that covers similar situations, can be helpful in clarifying those questions.
4. Why? Most employees (90 percent) say they choose the same benefits year over year, and many admit they do not spend much time researching their benefits options.1 This means there is a chance that employees are not selecting enough or the right coverage each year, which may translate into financial strain. It’s crucial for benefits advisers to explain why it is important to review benefits usage so workers are getting the most for their money and are protecting their overall well-being.
The review process starts now
Employers trust and rely on benefits advisers, and with open enrollment just around the corner, now is the perfect time to help ensure employees have the right coverage. By working with clients to discuss the options offered and areas for improvement, clients and employees can get the most value from their benefits package.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.
 2015 Open Enrollment Survey, conducted by Lightspeed GMI from June 23 – July 2, 2015, among 2,000 adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees.
 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report, conducted by Lightspeed/GMI on behalf of Aflac online in the United States between Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, 2016 among 5,000 adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part-time at a company with three or more employees.