BHCG Employers Share Benefits Details, Open Enrollment and Engagement Strategies

Fresh off of open enrollment season, BHCG member employers gathered on January 24 for one of the most popular meetings on our Benefits Forum calendar – the annual Employer Benefits Roundtable. Employer representatives shared their current benefits structure, open enrollment experience and member engagement initiatives for 2018 and beyond.

High deductible plans are dominant; minimal changes for 2018
Almost all employers offer at least one high deductible health plan, with many offering two with varying out-of-pocket costs that include an HSA or an HRA. Several employers offer a single high deductible plan and another just went to a full replacement plan as the culmination of a campaign to encourage HSA plan enrollment.

The majority of employers kept the same plan design in 2018, with just a couple tweaking deductibles for in- and out-of-network utilization or expanding employee/dependent classifications or eligibility. A few employers implemented benefits/HR administration vendor changes and several added the Best Doctors Oncology Insight program and e-Health summary components. Some employers also added identity theft protection as a benefit.

Open enrollment – electronic communication emphasis
With minimal plan changes for 2018, most employers reported passive open enrollments with defaults to existing plan choices for those employees who did not actively enroll. The majority of employers have an online enrollment process in place and more than a few used new outside benefits administration vendor platforms, resulting in some technological glitches. A few employers also chose to introduce other benefits (e.g., financial, voluntary, etc.) outside of open enrollment to minimize the amount of information employees had to absorb.

The vast majority of employers utilized electronic communications in their open enrollment campaigns. A couple of organizations were replacing paper and quite a few employers augmented an online enrollment guide with postcard or email announcements and updates. Many reported a focus on getting information out to dependents, taking previously intranet-only information to accessible online platforms and inviting dependents to enrollment meetings or webinars.

Consumer engagement and wellness initiatives
An added emphasis on employee and dependent engagement strategies was noted across the board. Most employers cited the development of communication campaigns that were targeted to various goals (e.g., better health care decisions, increased HSA enrollment, use of virtual visits, wellness program participation, lifestyle change and other consumer-driven programs and initiatives, etc.).

Many employers have implemented strategies to increase the utilization of Premium providers in UnitedHealthcare's Premium designation program, whether tiering benefits or not. Several also noted additional time and resources were spent on educating members about prescription drug programs and how to effectively use their Rx benefits.

A few employers have expanded wellness initiatives and tied employer contributions to outcomes. After initial forays into wellness several years ago, most organizations have taken the next steps to strengthen participation among employees and dependents and start to change culture. Most have increased wellness incentives and/or penalties and added tools and resources.

Employers present at the roundtable appreciated the opportunity to share benefit plan specifics, experiences, ideas and strategies. If you are a BHCG member employer and have not attended our annual Employer Roundtable, we encourage you to attend next year to take advantage of this great chance to network with your fellow HR and benefits representatives.