Did you know there’s a significant difference in benefits literacy between higher income and lower income workers in America?

It’s true. According to this year’s AFLAC Workforces report, not only is the health care literacy of Americans pretty low (point in case: just 10% report understanding their total annual health care costs very or extremely well)…on top of that, households earning $50,000 per year or less are significantly less likely to understand and take advantage of their health care benefits than households earning more than $100,000 per year.

Specifically, the study found that:

Half of lower-income workers say they spend less than 30 minutes researching their benefits during open enrollment, compared to 41% of higher-income workers.

And lower-income workers are much less likely than their higher-income counterparts to say they’re extremely or very knowledgeable about:

  • high-deductible health plans (only 19 percent vs. 37 percent)
  • health savings accounts (only 18 percent vs. 40 percent)
  • flexible spending accounts (only 20 percent vs. 51 percent)
  • and health reimbursement accounts (only 14 percent vs. 28 percent).

As you might guess, this difference in confidence about understanding benefits leads to some disparities in how lower- and higher-income workers think and feel about their open enrollment experience, too. For example:

25% of lower-income workers prefer to enroll face to face with a benefits expert versus 13% of higher-income workers

And less than half of lower-income workers agree they had enough information to feel prepared to select their benefits versus 59% of higher-income workers

Considering this is the landscape right now, what can employers do about it ? Well, according to the researchers behind the AFLAC study, THIS:

“All of these differences in enrollment preferences, experiences and understanding represent opportunities for improved communication between employers and workers. By developing clear, easy-to-understand communications about health care benefits and options, companies can improve health literacy, address the gaps between the haves and have-nots, and encourage employees at all income levels to make better use of the choices available to them.”

So. If your company is made up of employees with a wide range of income and benefits literacy–and you wanted to make your benefits information easier for EVERYBODY to understand–how might you actually do that?

Well, as luck would have it, we’ve given that question a lot of thought. And we’ve written a few eBooks with some answers. Download them for free right now!

Beating Benefits Bewilderment

5 Tips for Using Humor in Benefits Communication

The Ultimate Open Enrollment Communications Playbook