6 Tips to Help Your Employees Get the Most Out of Their 2024 Benefits
Now that the excitement of the holidays is behind us and the ID cards have been mailed out, it's time to help your employees get the most from the benefits they elected in the fall. Here are six tips to help them get the most out of their benefit choices:
1. Have Them Review Their Elections
First things first…most people, once open enrollment season ended, promptly forget what they elected even if it was the same coverage they already had. After all, once elected, their coverage wouldn't take effect for another month or two. Well, now it's January, and that coverage has kicked in. Now is a great time to get out their confirmation statement and refresh their memory about what they elected and what it will cost them, so they're not surprised when they get their first paycheck of the year.
2. Double Check Beneficiaries
It should have been done during open enrollment…but most employees are focused on making their elections and getting that off their to-do list. But it's important for your employees to do an annual beneficiary check for any life, accidental death and dismemberment, business travel and/or long-term disability coverage they have—as well as for their 401(k) or pension plans. Designating a beneficiary ensures that, if they die, any applicable benefits are paid directly to the person (or people or trust) they want to receive them instead of going through their estate.
3. Find a Doctor
With a national shortage of primary care physicians due to retirements, burnout, and shifts to non-patient-facing roles, it can be challenging to find a doctor. While employees may be able to meet their short-term needs through retail clinics, urgent care clinics, or even virtual care, nothing beats having a long-term relationship with a health care professional who knows the employee and their family and their health history and can refer them to any needed specialists. Finding a provider who is taking new patients and meets other needs (language preferences, gender, familiarity with specific health needs, etc.) may take a while, so start now. And remind employees not to limit their search: nurse practitioners are increasingly filling the role traditional physicians have held and may have availability sooner than an M.D. in the same practice.
4. Schedule Important Exams
Ask employees to think ahead: When was the last time they had a full-body skin check with a dermatologist? Will their kids need a summer camp physical? Are they due for an eye exam, six-month dental checkup, or mammogram? It can be hard to get these "wellness" appointments set on short notice—often, there is a two-month, three-month, or even longer wait for these visits, especially for new patients. Employees should try to set these appointments now, so they're already on the books (and they can plan their schedule around them!).
5. Make a Resolution
Benefits are confusing, even if they are used fairly regularly. Help your employees make this the year they improve their understanding of their health plan. Maybe it's deciding to learn what all those terms mean (premium, deductible, copay, coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximum, in-network, maximum allowable charge, precertification...) or how to read an explanation of benefits statement and medical bills so they can identify errors…or how to comparison shop for prescription drugs, outpatient procedures or even surgeries. Or maybe resolve to learn about the company's "extra" programs to help employees manage costs and improve their health. Both employees and employers might even save money based on what they learn!
6. Remember Important Dates
Depending on the company and its plans, there are certain deadlines employees won't want to miss during the year. Encourage them to get out their new 2024 planner and note the following dates:
- The end of the health care flexible spending account grace period (if applicable)
- Deadlines to attest to tobacco-free status or complete smoking cessation programs
- Deadlines to submit a health risk assessment, biometric screenings, or proof of annual physical to get reduced premiums or company contributions to a health savings account or health reimbursement account.
- When annual physical or routine exams/vaccinations must be completed. Most plans cover these once every 12 months, so employees should make sure not to get them too early (or too late!)
- The date a dependent child will be turning 26.
Taking time early in the year to get their coverage "ducks in a row" can pay dividends throughout the year. Start your employees off right by sharing these action steps to set them up for a successful 2024! Want more? Check out our blog, What your employees need to know when the plan year starts