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5 Ways Decision-Support Tools Help Employees Make Better Benefits Decisions

Ross Simons

Ross Simons

Director of Inbound Marketing
5 Ways Decision-Support Tools Help Employees Make Better Benefits Decisions

Year after year, you and your HR team put forth a monumental effort to convince, cajole, and coax your organization’s employees to learn more about their benefits. And each year, it seems like your best just isn’t enough.

Too many employees come to you with too many of the same questions. Ultimately, they default to the same-old familiar plans rather than the options you carefully designed to save your employees money, while providing excellent coverage.

How can you break this cycle? How can you help your employees see the value in their benefits packages — and make better decisions?

You could attempt to find a slot in each employee’s schedule to walk them through their options. Or you could try the digital equivalent: a decision-support tool.

What Is a Decision-Support Tool?

A decision-support tool is an easy-to-use web or mobile app designed to point users toward the best-fitting benefit options based on their anticipated needs.

Typically, a decision-support tool will ask a series of questions about the user’s healthcare usage and budget and then recommend plans, providing numbers such as expected premiums and out-of-pocket costs so that employees can easily compare plans.

The best decision-support tools help employees make better benefits decisions (better for themselves and your company) by doing five crucial things:

1. Decision-Support Tools Educate

When it comes to researching healthcare benefits, employees are not often the most eager bunch. In fact, most employees would rather do basically anything else (including sweat through three hours of hot yoga).

But you can’t help but learn something when you use a decision-support tool to choose benefits. That’s because decision-support tools boil head-spinning jargon (deductibles, premiums, HMOs, PPOs, etc.) down to easy-to-understand numbers.

For example, the decision-support tool PLANselect assigns each plan option a value score, which helps employees weigh their options at a glance. Attractive visualizations and video guidance help even the newest workers feel like benefits experts.

2. Decision-Support Tools Centralize Information

Why do employees hate researching benefits so much? One reason is that there are just too many information sources to keep track of, let alone consume: plan summaries from various vendors, HR emails and newsletters, cost tables, in- and out-of-network provider directories, and so on. It’s no wonder why so many employees opt to make their best guess and move on.

Decision-support tools can simplify the information-gathering process by bringing everything employees need to make confident and informed benefits choices into one accessible location. There’s no need for printouts or PDFs at all; employees can access the information they require whenever they want, at work, on the go, or at home.

3. Decision-Support Tools Make Trustworthy Recommendations

The most effective decision-support tools, such as PLANselect, tap into a rich claimant database containing hundreds of millions of data points. This dramatically reduces the time and intrusive questioning required to complete the tool and ensures an extremely high level of accuracy.

The decision-support tool employs powerful analytical algorithms to recommend plans that are right for each employee’s healthcare situation. Employees who use a tool like PLANselect generally spend no more than necessary for healthcare throughout the year and never lack coverage when they need it — which boosts their confidence in using the tool the next time open enrollment comes around.

Related: A Secret Weapon for Reducing Healthcare Spending. Read more here →

4. Decision-Support Tools Make Choosing Benefits a Breeze

Have you ever tried to digest a 20-page plan guide after a long day of answering emails and attending meetings? It feels like homework. On the other hand, using a decision-support tool almost feels (dare we say it) fun — or, at least, satisfying.

The best decision-support tools provide that delightful Amazon-like experience where everything “just works” with minimal effort and time. PLANselect, for example, makes accurate estimates and plan recommendations in less than five minutes with only a handful of questions.

5. Decision-Support Tools Make HDHPs Comprehensible

Even though high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have been available for several years, many employees are still reluctant to choose them. Terms like health savings account (HSA) can be confusing, and high deductibles can sound expensive. But you know the truth: certain employees can save a significant amount of money by choosing an HDHP, reducing your organization’s overall healthcare spending.

With just a few simple questions, decision-support tools can make the cost-saving potential of HDHPs explicit, enabling direct comparisons between HDHPs and traditional plans. By analyzing PLANselect data, we’ve found that you can successfully migrate 15% to 25% of your population to an HDHP using a decision-support tool.

Help Your Employees Make Better Decisions

The end to your frustration is within reach. A world where employees make smarter benefits decisions is possible with a decision-support tool. Learn more about how decision-support tools can help you educate your employees and get healthcare spending under control with our free decision-support guide for HR professionals.

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