Home Health Tips Open season: Employer, employee top tips for health care enrollment – Jersey's Best

Open season: Employer, employee top tips for health care enrollment – Jersey's Best

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The right health care plan is an important investment that will help ensure the health, well-being and peace of mind of you and your family.

UnitedHealthcare CEO offers top tips for both employers and employees when it comes to selecting the right health care plan during open enrollment.

Every year, several well-known rituals occur during the fall, including football season, holiday season and annual open enrollment for health care plans offered by many insurance carriers.

Paul Marden, CEO of UnitedHealthcare

According to a recent survey, Americans’ overall health care confusion and lack of health care literacy led nearly 30% of respondents to avoid care because they didn’t know what their plan covered. However, said Paul Marden, CEO of leading insurance carrier UnitedHealthcare, which provides coverage to 1.5 million New Jersey residents through its robust commercial, Medicare and Medicaid options, the right health care plan is an important investment that will help ensure the health, well-being and peace of mind of you and your family.

Following, Marden shares top tips to help both employers and employees make the most of the open enrollment period, which typically takes place between September and December for most carriers:

For Employers:

“There are a number of ways employers can help employees make informed decisions about their health care plan,” Marden said. Among them:

  • Acknowledge the Pandemic’s Impact — According to Marden, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on employees’ health care needs and subsequent choices. “Surveys show that nearly half of respondents intend to make changes to their plan due to COVID, with some opting for a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs and others selecting more comprehensive coverage with richer benefits,” he said. “Given that one-third of respondents said that they plan to review their benefits and open enrollment materials more closely this year, it behooves employers to help their employees understand basic terms and enhance their healthcare literacy.” Marden noted that the UnitedHealth Group website justplainclear.com is a great resource that provides definitions of key health care plan terms in several languages.
  • Promote Virtual Care Options — “Telemedicine has exploded in popularity and we’ve seen a ten-fold growth in virtual health care visits since 2019,” Marden said. “As a result, employers should be sure to communicate their virtual care options to employees because that’s what many people are opting for during the pandemic.”
  • Leverage Big Data — “We encourage employers to leverage big data about their employees’ preferences and utilization rates from their insurance carriers,” Marden said. “We have visibility to their employees’ use of virtual visits, interest in behavioral health services, and many other trends and can advise them on what their employees are seeking.” Marden added that increased collaboration between employers and insurance carriers also can help reduce plan expenses. For instance, “Employers can save money by promoting quality ‘place of service’ care or greater use of generic drugs to reduce co-pays or by bundling medical plans with other services such as dental, hearing and accident protection plans, which can reduce premiums by 4%,” he said. “In addition, incentives to enhance employees’ health — such as those available through our Sweat Equity program, which rewards employees for participating in gym or fitness classes, or our Real Appeal weight-loss program — can also help reduce plan costs for employees while promoting a healthier workforce.”

Telehealth visits and other resources, such as weight-loss programs, can help employees navigate health and wellness services from home.

For Employees:

“There are many proactive steps employees can take to ensure that they choose the best health care plan for their needs,” Marden said. Among them:

  • Enroll Promptly — “Don’t wait until the last minute of open enrollment to choose a plan,” Marden said. “Start early, take your time, and ask questions to ensure that you understand your options as well as the associated premium, contribution and amount of deductible or co-insurance you’ll be responsible for in case of a health event.”
  • Do Your Homework and Plan Ahead — “Make sure that any doctors you want to stay with are within your plan’s network before making a choice,” he advised. “When evaluating between plan options, it’s also helpful to consider the health care needs of you or your family for the upcoming year and choose a plan accordingly.”
  • Capitalize on Telehealth and Incentives — Marden recommends that employees take advantage of plans that offer telehealth visits and other resources that can help them navigate health and wellness services from home, such as UnitedHealthcare’s virtual Real Appeal weight-loss program. “In addition, employees can earn up to $200 every six months through their participation in our Sweat Equity program, so it’s great to inquire about any financial incentives that can help reduce a plan’s cost,” he said.
  • Ask Questions — “Reach out to your company’s HR team or your insurance carrier with any questions,” Marden suggested. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Overall, “we recommend that employees think about their and their family’s health needs, understand the basics of coverage and their plan options, and then choose a plan whose features best fit their priorities and budget,” Marden said. “Health insurance is a critical investment that provides coverage of both preventative services and unexpected health events and there are great plan options out there designed to meet everyone’s unique needs.”

For More Information:

For more information about UnitedHealthcare’s open enrollment process or to access resources that can assist in selecting a health care plan, visit uhc.com/openenrollment.

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