Brokers and employers concede they have a number of key knowledge gaps in certain aspects of consumer-driven health care programs, according to the 2017 Alegeus Broker & Employer CDH Insights Report.
The Waltham, Mass. provider of such programs surveyed 502 U.S. benefit brokers and 504 U.S. employers, and shows the majority of brokers (68 percent) perceive themselves to be highly fluent in CDHP benefits, and half of employers make the same claim. However, after drilling down into program specifics, the survey shows notable knowledge gaps for both brokers and employers.
“Brokers and employers claim to be highly knowledgeable about CDH product offerings,” the authors write, “but do they know enough to be truly effective, creative and consultative in driving CDH adoption and usage?”
While brokers say they are highly fluent in health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and debit cards, they are just moderately fluent in limited-purpose FSAs, dependent care accounts and commuter benefits. They also have low fluency in wellness incentives.
On the other hand, employers are highly fluent in HSAs, FSAs and wellness programs, but they have low fluency in health reimbursement arrangements, commuter benefits, and debit cards. Like brokers, employers are just moderately fluent in limited-purpose FSAs and dependent care accounts.
When identifying areas where they could benefit from additional training and support, roughly a third of brokers say they have average or below average capability in discussing market trends related to account-based products; communicating best practices which drive employee adoption; and encouraging employers to choose a high-deductible health plan coupled with an account over a more traditional health insurance offering.
Half of employers say they have average or below average capability in recommending an employee select a high-deductible plan coupled with an account over a more traditional health insurance offering; helping employees determine contribution amounts to their HSA or FSA; and communicating best practices for getting the most value of their accounts and/or contributions.
Employers also could stand to expand their support for open enrollment decision-making, as consumers may need more help choosing among CDH plans and accounts, the authors write. A majority (65 percent) of employers communicate about health benefit offerings only during open enrollment; 60 percent only rely on plan summary documents and enrollment forms; 33 percent offer plan comparison tools and multimedia educational content; and 17 percent offer interactive decision-support tools based on personal data inputs.
The survey also finds significant discrepancies between how employers and consumers feel about the quality and effectiveness of the employer’s enrollment communications -- including clarity of content, depth of information, variety of communication channels, level of content personalization and frequency of communication.
The good news is both brokers and employers view consumer-driven health benefits as “mission critical” to success.
When asked about the future of CDH and its strategic importance for their business, brokers unanimously (86 percent) say that account-based products are critical -- with nearly 3 out of 10 (29 percent) saying they “couldn’t win without them because they are the future.”
Roughly 3 out of 4 employers (74 percent) agree CDHPs are highly strategic to their overall benefit strategies, with 22 percent just beginning to see traction within their customer segments.