5 Strategies to Combat Low Healthcare Literacy

reading the paper

It’s no secret that healthcare is confusing. From understanding bills to finding an in-network provider and everything in between, many people are left to fend for themselves in a system that’s not designed to support them.

Only 12% of Americans have proficient healthcare literacy. And it’s by no fault of their own.

HR is crippled and members are disengaged. Neither has the support or resources they need to understand, use or manage their benefits. And it’s having a direct impact on members’ wellbeing.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  

Employer-led support is critical for members and HR when it comes to understanding and trusting their benefits. From empowering everyone with the knowledge they need to effectively manage their wellbeing to providing resources and support to find quality and affordable care, employers can help alleviate many of the struggles that have led to today’s low health literacy.

We’ve outlined five of our tried-and-true strategies to help engage members and support HR teams for a better benefits experience. It all boils down to one simple concept: offer the critical support members and HR teams need.

Here’s how.

Ease the administrative burden on HR teams.

This may sound like an obvious tactic, but we’ve found that your HR team likely isn’t as equipped as they need (or would like) to be. From disparate technology to a lack of plan information to administer the plan, HR is often stuck playing a middle-man role between the member and the carrier.

Arming HR with the tools and support they need to be a benefits knowledge base gives members one more avenue of support. Administrative tools, billing support and employee engagement materials are just a few of the ways you can help your HR teams help your members.

Give members and HR a single source of truth.

Half the battle of understanding your benefits is figuring out where to find the information in the first place. Oftentimes, many people are stuck in phone trees, navigating hard-to-understand insurance sites or digging through a jargon-filled stack of paperwork.

Using a single resource, like a portal or internal wiki, to house all of your benefits information makes it easier for members to find what they need. It also eases the burden on HR and other support teams by ensuring the most up-to-date materials are available in one easy-to-find location.

Send out year-round benefits education.

Benefits education and support shouldn’t stop at open enrollment. Supporting your members (and HR teams) with the right information at the right time is critical to boosting engagement and promoting a better benefits experience.

Benefits communication is most effective when you pair it with communication methods your people are already familiar with and use often, like emails, text messages and break room posters.

Help members know where to go for the right care.

Over 70% of ER visits are unnecessary. This isn’t because people enjoy going to the ER—many likely aren’t aware that they have the option to shop for the right care when it’s not an emergency.

Educating members about when to use telehealth, visit urgent care or a clinic versus the ER is beneficial for everyone (especially for their budget).

Offer wellness and wellbeing programs.

No one should have to go it alone when it comes to managing their health, especially when it comes to complex issues, like chronic or acute conditions. Making wellness and wellbeing programs a part of your benefits experience means your people can get the critical support they need for a better health outcome. 

When we think about creating a better benefits experience, we’re looking at more than our clients’ bottom lines. We’re looking at the people who need to use it.

Check out our latest infographic to learn more about the hurdles many members face when it comes to understanding, and using, their benefits.

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