We All Need Support…

For almost 3 years now, I’ve seen myself as a go-to person for helping people make the most educated decision when it comes to selecting their health insurance plan. Whether it’s the appropriate questions to ask, the big picture items to look at, or how the math works out, I’m incredibly confident that I can objectively advise and paint an unbiased picture. I’ve always found the best (and often hardest) advice to follow is your own, and when it came to selecting the health plan I’d be taking for this January 1st, I was once again the victim of this finding. The incredibly confident insurance know-it-all was left overwhelmed and in need of a lifeline... A “phone-a-friend” if you will. Story time:

               It all started during one of our Monday morning huddles, when the additions of a number of new benefits were announced, including a High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). The prospect of having an HSA really excited me, as I’d wanted one ever since learning of the savings opportunity (I’m possibly the only 25 year old who this would REALLY excite). Following the meeting, I printed out my enrollment form and got to work; going through the same process I would walk anyone else through. Next thing I knew, I was shuffling through all of my Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) from 2017 to see how much I’d spent on healthcare, trying to do the calculations on what my best choice for 2018 would be.

               I don’t know how it always sounds so simple when I’m advising others; however, when doing it myself, I slowly but surely saw the clouds of doubt and confusion creep in. Something that I can typically help someone else finish in under 20 minutes had already cost me over 1 hour of valuable time.

When advising on creative strategies for employers, a key focus in our conversation is about how you communicate, advocate, and offer support to employees. All of that said, for groups without these resources, the fact remains that most people simply do not know what questions they should be asking themselves to make this feel-good decision – and from my own experience, I don’t blame them. Back to the story:

               I’d started out by digging through my insurance carrier’s online portal to find every claim I’d had in 2017. Each claim accompanied by an EOB, which details everything about how the claim was processed. I’ve helped many people go through EOBs and helped them to understand what the document was saying. I definitely see why it is a confusing document, and to that point, I’m not surprised it had me questioning myself… “So on the HDHP, would I pay the ‘Billed Amount’ or the ‘Maximum Amount’? What about for prescriptions?”

              Next thing I knew, I was registering to log-in to my insurance carrier’s pharmacy benefit manager… “Why do they have 2 different websites/logins? How come the price I paid at Duane Reade is different than what it shows in this portal? How much would it cost on the new HDHP?!” As Hour 2 approached, I knew I needed one of my colleagues to help out (and calm me down). I was frustrated and in search for assurances that I was looking at things the right way. I walked over to a colleague with over 20 years’ experience to ask his thoughts.

Considering I had this much of a struggle during Open Enrollment, I don’t even want to try and guess the amount of time that gets eaten up by anxiety stricken employees who just want to make the best decision for themselves and their families. If I’d had access to a Decision Making Support Tool, the 2+ hours of exasperating number crunching, document scanning, help seeking, and enrollment form completing, would have taken 10-15 minutes.
Implementing a robust Decision Making Support Tool not only assists in navigating a difficult system, but also empowers your team to feel good about the decisions they make. This is as important, if not more important than giving them any decisions to make in the first place!

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