Most employees do not understand their health benefits

Employers have an opportunity to educate workers

Most employees do not understand their health benefits

Employers have the opportunity to educate their workforce regarding how they can effectively choose and utilize their healthcare coverage, a study conducted by Optavise said. The benefits solutions firm released its 2023 Healthcare Literacy Report which says that employers miss out on opportunities such as cost reduction when they do not improve their efforts in benefits education.

"Health insurance is important to an individual's physical and financial well-being.” said Kim Buckey, vice president, client services. “The more employees understand how their plans work and how their decisions affect their out-of-pocket costs, the more satisfied they will be.”

The survey involved 1,061 US employees whose health plans were supported by their employers and did not work in the insurance industry.

Knowledge gap in employee understanding of healthcare benefits

According to the study, there is a clear knowledge gap that exists within certain industries, specifically education, retail, and others that have younger employees and earn less than $50,000 annually. Only 60% in education and 64% in retail said that they are confident in understanding their health plans.

The study also found a correlation between age and understanding of benefits as 80% of Baby Boomers said that they understand healthcare terms and its relation to their coverage in comparison to 76% of Gen X, 68% of Millennials, and 60% of Gen Z.

Only 68% of the respondents said that they confidently understand the nuances of their plans, a 3% decrease from the previous year. 35% of the respondents said that they take the time to compare the costs of medical services or prescriptions before paying for them, which also saw a 3% decrease.

Only 35% of the employees surveyed check the network status of their healthcare service provider when they need it. 67% admitted to not knowing that they can compare treatment or services costs which entails the likelihood of them overpaying for care.

Ineffective healthcare educational resources

There was also a decline in the direct involvement of HR departments when it comes to benefits education as one-on-one conversations with HR decreased by 2% from 28% last year. The report said that only 68% of the employees found online resources regarding their health benefits are helpful which 84% took a preference to one-on-one conversation in terms of helpfulness.

46% of the respondents admitted to only learning about their benefits from friends, family, and coworkers while 27% said they learned from their employer’s HR team, 18% from their insurance carrier’s representatives, and 15% from outside benefits experts.

“Employers have an opportunity to take the lead in increasing healthcare literacy rates among their workforces. By providing consistent, year-round healthcare literacy education, employers can ensure their employees aren't overspending on healthcare, which saves money for all involved." said Buckey.