Most employers aren't keeping up when it comes to giving employees what they need to effectively manage health care benefits online. Employees want personalized information tailored to meet their individual health needs, not a one-size-fits-all Web page. Employers are missing an opportunity to increase employee satisfaction and save on administrative costs.
According to the CIGNA survey and research conducted by organizations such as Forrester Research, there are several things companies can do to make online benefits access a more useful tool.
Keep it simple
Employees aren't interested in online benefits that make things more complicated. Many health care-related Web sites merely replicate pages of text-heavy information employees already have. Even with benefits Web sites, employees often have to re-enter personal information each time they visit.
Forrester Research says companies can save time and money by pre-populating Web databases with employee data so visitors can focus on resolving inquiries.
In the CIGNA study, 31 percent of employers say providing employees with education and information about their benefits is a challenge. Of employees, 27 percent surveyed believe their company is not doing a good job educating them about how to manage benefits using the Internet.
Benefits sites can provide a wealth of information and resources. By incorporating the latest e-learning design techniques, companies can ensure that online visits are worthwhile.
Personalization wins out
Twenty-two percent of employers say answering basic questions from employees is one of their biggest challenges. Providing Web-based information customized for employees can reduce this bottleneck, but true online customization requires that companies create an online resource capable of selecting and presenting data relevant to the employee.
Make it interactive
At many health benefits Web sites, interactivity means little more than giving employees the ability to update personal data. According to the CIGNA survey, most want the ability to conduct transactions over Web-based benefits sites.
A majority of employees surveyed thought it was important to have access to the following transactions to better manage health care benefits: Selecting a doctor; ordering prescriptions; reviewing the status of medical claims; reviewing co-payments and deductibles; reviewing health plan options; and accessing health and wellness information
Broad, integrated company commitment
Employees want a more positive experience when they turn to Web-based services. One common mistake employers make is not integrating online HR sites with benefits services available by other means, such as in-person or telephone-based systems.
Benefits managers should make certain all their health care benefits offerings work together so that no service operates in isolation. This way, whether an employee is online or on the phone, data is tracked and updated across all systems simultaneously, increasing efficiency and convenience. Jeanne McCarthy is president and general manager of CIGNA HealthCare - Ohio region, headquartered in Cleveland. CIGNA HealthCare is one of the nation's leading providers of health-benefit programs, with managed care networks serving 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. CIGNA HealthCare currently provides medical coverage through managed care and indemnity programs to more than 13.3 million people, including more than 250,000 in major Ohio markets. Reach McCarthy at (800) 541-7526.