Decision support has experienced a rapid evolution in recent years, with employees demanding more from their employers and more from their benefits. Tools that help employees choose their benefits based on limited data and generic recommendations are quickly becoming archaic. With new players, new partnerships, and a workplace that has drastically changed since 2020, decision support solutions are poised to do more for benefits than ever before.
“Everything has changed in the last few years,” says Sarah Oliver, VP of Voluntary Products at Prudential Financial. “The old technology isn’t detailed enough; it doesn’t get to individual employee needs and it doesn’t generate that comprehensive understanding of how all your benefits work together to affect your health and wallet.”
As employers and benefit teams gear up for another busy year of enrollments, it’s time to revisit what qualifies as decision support and what makes solutions stand out. Here’s five key considerations.
Generic guidance won’t cut it.
Decision support should help employees understand which benefits they should purchase. It should consider their specific health needs and financial circumstances, and then deliver personalized guidance about what coverage they need.
“The market has shifted,” says Oliver. “Even a few years ago, you could get away with guidance based on just a few data points: a couple basic health needs, age, and family makeup, and then a ‘people like you’ recommendation. Now, with more costs on consumers, those generic solutions aren’t enough to help people feel protected.”
Every individual has unique needs and corresponding care consumption. Do their kids play sports and spend more time at the ER? Do they have a chronic condition? What are their current savings and level of financial wellness? These specific details need to contribute to the guidance decision support provides. Even seemingly small changes in health care needs can drastically affect which benefits are right for one person over another.
Full coverage advice will close gaps in financial wellness.
Health plan choice guidance remains critical; it’s the highest cost item for employees and the benefit they consistently most expect. But health plan guidance, alone, can leave gaps in protection. That’s why employers are going above and beyond to give employees more benefit options. But to take advantage of those options, employees need help understanding how they work together. Employees may not know how to use savings tools like HSAs to offset the high deductible, or whether they should consider other benefits, like accident insurance.
Decision support solutions that look at an employee’s complete individual picture—their health needs and financial profile—can deliver holistic, easy-to-understand guidance on how to navigate their benefits package, showing:
- Here’s what you should purchase based on your specific needs and goals.
- And even better, here’s how that purchase will affect your overall financial resiliency.
Younger generations are even more focused on decision support.
Millennials and Gen Z now make up nearly half of the workforce. And both generations are looking at benefits differently than their predecessors, Oliver explains, with a deep focus on holistic wellness tools that address what’s important to them. Mental health and financial wellness top the list of these priorities, as does understanding when and whether their overbuying (57 percent of younger employees feel pressured to select the most expensive health insurance option). Decision support tools can help employers address the younger generations’ specific needs and provide the individual support they value.
Decision support needs to provide actionable insights to employers and consultants.
Decision support is more than a tool to help employees; it’s a treasure trove of data that has big implications for how consultants and employers build their benefit packages.
With today’s challenging hiring market, employers are more focused than ever before on competitive benefit packages that attract and retain top talent. Advanced decision support is the key to more personalized, competitive benefits. Decision support collects detailed data on individual employee needs. Then, using data science and predictive modeling, it can diagnose gaps in coverage and identify the right set of products employers should offer.
“Tools that help you understand, predict, and then plan for employees’ needs…. those are the tools that will lead the market,” says Oliver.
Decision support should be integral to every stakeholder in the enrollment process.
Decision support’s value to employers and employees is clear: it’s a uniquely effective at optimizing benefit offerings to maximize savings and increase employee benefit satisfaction. That’s why stakeholders across the enrollment process—from benefit consultants to enrollment platforms—should consider how decision support fits into their offerings. “Decision support is quickly becoming a must-have, not a nice-to-have,” says Oliver.
And it’s not just consultants and enrollment platforms, she continues. Health carriers can also benefit from these tools, by using them to help members become informed and active consumers right from the moment of enrollment. Voluntary and supplementary insurance carriers can leverage decision support to increase employees’ understanding of their products. And HSA providers have an unparalleled tool for helping employees choose and effectively use their HSA.
With 2023 in full swing, it’s the optimal time to reconsider decision support and how it fits into your benefit goals. Learn more about MyHealthMath’s integrated solution, and then schedule a demo with our team: https://myhealthmath.com/myhealthmath-demo/