In my March blog, I wrote about the increasing popularity of exchanges and suggested some essential research steps to providing the right benefit mix in your exchange. (Hint: It’s not a cookie-cutter solution.)
- Who is your exchange enrollee? From age demographics, income levels to industries represented.
- Traditional benefits offered: PPO/Copay offering vs. HDHP/MEC plans
- Traditional benefits NOT offered: Non-Traditional benefits can play a meaningful role by complementing and filling gaps.
- Quality versus quantity: A strategic mix of programs that will empower, not overwhelm, the enrollee.
Yet even if you carefully follow these steps, it will only get you to first or second base with your exchange strategy. The next step in creating an exchange is finding a simple yet intuitive technology platform. Unfortunately, many of the technology solutions out there today are at best glorified benefits administration platforms, which engage the consumer in a one-way conversation. These platforms leave brokers stuck on second base, still searching for the elusive exchange strategy that will set them apart from the competition.
So how can you hit an exchange homerun? You’ve got to start a two-way conversation.
The enrollment process for the consumer has always been a one-way conversation, a monologue: “Here are your benefits, Mr. Employee. Good luck.” When it comes to exchanges, this approach is ineffective. You’ve got to engage Mr. Employee by asking questions. His answers will allow you to pinpoint and make available the solutions that best fit his unique needs.
When you stop monologuing and start asking questions, you might be surprised by what you hear! For example, according to an AON survey, 54% of consumers ranked having access to cost and quality data across multiple insurance companies as being valuable. Does your exchange include the right solutions to meet those needs?
New Benefits offers a powerful transparency solution called Health Cost Estimator+. This product drives smarter decisions and reduces medical costs by giving employees the cost, quality and other key information they need to choose the best care at the best price. By removing the mystery and helping them understand the full costs of their care, Health Cost Estimator+ will change the way employees access the healthcare system.
In the same AON survey, nearly 60% of consumers said they think employers should offer free tools to raise awareness of personal health status and risks and provide programs to help their employees achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. How can you meet this need? Consider Health Wealth Connection, a wellness program designed to help employees manage their physical health and personal finances, including guided assessments and weekly tips on health, money and stress management.
You’ll never know what employees want if you don’t ask them. Once you’ve started the dialogue and understand their desires, it’s time to find the right mix of solutions to meet those needs. And that is how you hit an exchange homerun.
 Aon Hewitt 2014 Consumer Health Mindset Survey
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