Are Employees Reform-Ready?

reform readyFor all the talk about encouraging workers to take more control of their healthcare decisions, it seems many employees are neither prepared or all that eager to grab the reins.   

For that matter, nearly three-quarters of the workforce (72 percent) have not even heard the phrase “consumer-driven healthcare,” according to the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report, which recently surveyed 1,884 benefits decision makers and 5,299 employees.

More signs that HR and benefits leaders may have a tough road ahead in helping employees better understand healthcare reform and their increasingly complex healthcare coverage options:

• More than half (54 percent) of workers would prefer not to have greater control over their insurance options, because they don’t have the time or knowledge to effectively manage it.

• Thirty-two percent of employees indicated they are “not very” or “not at all” knowledgeable about health-savings accounts. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of workers said the same about federal and state healthcare exchanges, with 49 percent describing themselves as “not very” or “not at all” knowledgeable about health-reimbursement accounts.

Educating workers on the changes coming with the Affordable Care Act doesn’t seem to be a top priority for some employers, either:

• Despite 75 percent of employees saying they think their employer would educate them about changes to their coverage as a result of healthcare reform, just 13 percent of employers said educating employees about healthcare reform was important to their organizations.

“It’s time for consumers to face reality,” said Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac, in a statement.

Tillman advises employees and HR to sit down together to address questions and explain policies, key terms, deductible limits and co-pay and co-insurance requirements, as a first step toward helping workers make sensible decisions going forward.

“The bottom line,” she says, “is if consumers aren’t educated about the full scope of their options, they risk making costly mistakes without a financial back-up plan.”