By Cyril Tuohy
With nearly seven out of 10 (69 percent) workers saying their employer has yet to inform them of changes to their benefits package, advisors and brokers have a golden opportunity to help companies step up their education efforts.
The more active employers are in educating employees about changes related to health reform, the more likely employees are to say they're satisfied with their jobs and stay with them, said Michael Zuna, Aflac executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
"Through aggressive education and communication efforts, as well as leveraging ancillary benefits options to offer workers additional options to close growing gaps in their insurance coverage, employers can help their workforce make the right benefits choices and protect their well-being," Zuna said in a news release.
Employers can mail benefits material to employees at home, host town-hall meetings with advisors, conduct webinars or post answers to frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) in cafeterias, bathrooms and break rooms, Aflac said.
Advisors and brokers also should visit employees on-site. Employees begin making their 2014 health benefits selections on Oct. 1. The enrollment period ends Dec. 31.
A full-court press to educate employees about health care changes appears necessary in the wake of findings included in the 2013 Open Enrollment Survey of 2,001 consumers. The survey, released earlier this month, found a big communication gap between employers and employees.
It found that 74 percent of workers sometimes or never understand what is covered by their insurance policy today, 37 percent think their policies will be even more difficult to decipher with health reform, and 28 percent are confused, worried or unsure about the changes being made by their employers.
In addition, 60 percent of workers have not begun to educate themselves about the coming changes to their benefits package due to health reform, the survey found.
Zuna said many workers will be “blindsided this enrollment season because they already struggle with understanding their insurance policies today,” and employers run the risk of supporting a “dissatisfied workforce.”
The bulk of employers have indicated they will continue to offer the same health benefits in 2014. As health reforms slowly take hold from 2014 to 2018, when an excise tax goes into effect, employers have indicated they will begin making changes to their employer-paid benefit health plans.
The Open Enrollment Survey was conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected]<em>.
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