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Helping Employees Sort through Open Enrollment Confusion

Open enrollment. It’s hard to believe that it’s right around the corner. As we all are well aware, benefits are more confusing than ever and individuals do not understand their options. In fact, a recent study found that choosing healthcare benefits is more difficult than purchasing a car, making decisions about medical tests and even parenting! [1.Aetna: Decision 2012: Health Care Benefits Second Most Difficult Decision for Consumers] (I have three children, so it’s hard to believe that anything could rank higher than parenting in my book.) But it’s clear that people are overwhelmed by the decisions they have to make during open enrollment season and they need help.

My passion lies in creating solutions that help simplify and guide users through the complexities of our healthcare system. Which is why I am especially excited about a recent enhancement we have made to our Coverage Advisor Tool. This new enhancement allows users to ask questions, virtually having a conversation regarding their benefit choices in real-time during the plan comparison process.  We call it “Ask Sara” and have partnered with NextIT, a leader in human emulation software, to make it happen.

Help individuals understand why information is collected during the open enrollment process: 

“Why do you need my household income?”

“How are the estimated costs calculated?”

Explain confusing benefit concepts:

“When is coinsurance calculated?”

“How is family deductible calculated?”

Guides individuals to make smart decisions:

“What are the advantages of a HSA?”

“How do I choose a plan for me?”

What does Ask Sara do that your basic benefit comparison tool doesn’t?  Ask Sara takes what employees consider to be one of the most difficult major life decisions — and simplifies it.  How? You ask –  Through conversations.

  • Ask Sara creates a more engaging online experience by connecting users with valuable information
  • Ask Sara guides users with immediately accessible help when users need it most
  • Ask Sara is smart – providing information users need on the page

Your employees have questions.  Ask Sara can provide immediate help when employees need it most. Users are able to type in their questions, using their own natural language, and get the information they need to continue through the benefit comparison process.  Sara can explain the value of a tax savings account and even answer how to optimize an HSA. When employees ask Sara about plan costs, Sara can easily explain how out of pocket costs are calculated and even direct users to additional supporting information.

How often do your employees bail out of the process, defaulting to the same plan year after year?  It’s just easier that way.  But as we all know, plans change, financial risk increases and educating employees to be aware and understand those changes is essential.  Engagement is a critical first step to solving the challenges that open enrollment presents.

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