The Next Generation of Health Plans
High deductible health plans (HDHP) are becoming more mainstream due to their low fixed cost for employers and employees. The combination of an HDHP and a health savings account (HSA) as popular marks a profound change in how employees view and use their benefits. Therefore, providers should take care in designing these programs and the communication that accompanies them.
To assess best practices, we tracked the experience of a new hire to a mega-plan employer who selected an Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield HDHP from the company’s health plan offerings. We analyzed the HSA Provider’s (UMB Bank) onboarding and enrollment process during the employee’s first 30 days.
Best practices of new hire experience:
- An enrollment email encouraged and rewarded logging in
- The new hire received an ID card within one week of enrolling, along with instructions to log in and activate the plan
- The new hire received a $100 deposit from the employer into the HSA as a reward for signing up
- The HSA was ready to use immediately upon enrollment, with no additional paperwork required
- The HSA account was easily findable via the 401(k)/benefits website’s main menu tab
- The HSA portal included a fitness portal, Active Health, that offered discounts on meals and fitness equipment
- The new hire became eligible to earn rewards from the company (up to $450 in this case) for performing certain health-related actions, such as:
- Working with a registered dietician from Weight Watchers
- Becoming a member of an external gym
- Undergoing a biometric screening
Areas for improvement:
- The employer could decrease the new hire’s enrollment wait time.
- The employer and/or the provider should send a plan enrollment confirmation—neither did in this case
- The employer and the provider should provide educational messaging about HDHPs, especially if they are the only plans available
- The employer and the provider should provide tools to show the potential savings from HDHPs, explain how HSAs work and suggest strategies to prepare for higher out-of-pocket expenses in some cases
On the whole, we see significant room for improvement from both the employer and the provider in HDHP and HSA education for new employees. The educational materials and tools could be far more comprehensive and detailed, especially as these new plans differ significantly from the long-standing options most employees are used to. In particular, a comparison of the HDHP/HSA combination to other health plan options would highlight both the benefits and downsides of these newer health plans.