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Whiteboard strategy sketch To improve employees’ health care literacy and empower smart decision-making, employers must take steps to build a comprehensive, year-round benefits communications plan. (Image: Chris Nicholls)

The open enrollment period is complete at most organizations – congratulations, employers! This year’s open enrollment season required special attention and effort from most HR teams and their partners. Communicating with a remote workforce and answering questions about health plans in the middle of a pandemic – it’s not easy. It’s also not over.

Open enrollment is just the gateway into employers’ year-round benefits communications efforts. While helping employees choose a plan is important work, it doesn’t guarantee that employees will know how to use it effectively throughout the year. In a 2020 consumer survey, less than one-third of respondents knew how concepts such as coinsurance, premiums and allowed amounts applied to their coverage. Yet, interestingly, 67% of the same respondents said they were confident they understood how their health plan works. This contradiction paints a similar picture seen throughout the industry – that almost all Americans overestimate their understanding of health insurance concepts (that is, their health literacy).

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