by Amanda Lannert, Jellyvision CEO
You’re investing more in your benefits than ever. But, try as you might, your employees are still in the dark. That’s why we’re reimagining benefits engagement: to finally meet employees at every moment that matters, help them make smarter decisions about their health, and save you both time and money in the process. Imagine: Your employees use and appreciate the benefits you offer, and you’re able to maximize—even better, celebrate—the investment you’re making to support your people.
We’ve made it to the summer of 2021. We’re cautiously hugging friends, gratefully dining on food prepared by restaurant chefs, and bidding a tearful farewell to our sweats in favor of hard pants.
As we near what we hope to be the end of the pandemic, we’re reflecting on the past year and a half. It put a spotlight not only on our health system, but on the benefits you provide as an employer that enable your people to get care. This past year has made it impossible to ignore what we’ve known for a long while: the cost of benefits is on an unsustainable trajectory.
Even before the pandemic, the top reason Americans filed for bankruptcy was healthcare costs. What’s more, the Employee Benefits Research Institution found that 20% of the population accounts for 84% of all health spending. To support that 20% of the population, employer spending per person averages from $24k to $168k. The costs you’re shouldering are huge.
And now, because of Covid, we’re bracing ourselves for higher cost increases in 2021 than we’ve seen the past few years. Double digit increases. It’s bad news for you, and your employees.
The hard truth: more investment does not equal healthier employees
The pandemic also illuminated a tough reality: in many ways, you’ve become a healthcare company. Not only are you learning more than you wanted to know about sanitation stations and double-checking ever-changing CDC guidelines, but you’ve also invested, implemented and adapted a growing portfolio of health plans, policies and point solutions. Why? Because you want to support your people. You want them to be healthy, happy and engaged. Of course you do.
But, as costs keep rising, you’re investing more in your benefits than ever, and we’ve heard from many customers who are wondering: how much bang am I getting for all these bucks?
Despite your best efforts, your employees are not, in many cases, healthier, happier, or more engaged.
The solution: better benefits engagement
These challenges—rising costs, complex layers of benefit offerings, chronic underutilization by employees—weren’t caused by the pandemic. Rather, they were amplified, laying the final blow to a system typified by out-of-control costs and ever-expanding non-solutions.
And that’s not for lack of trying. You’ve been trying to solve these challenges for years. But traditional approaches to benefits fail. They fail to get your people what they need, when they need it, in a way that’s easily understood. Benefits messages are delivered at open enrollment, Healthy Lung Month and Walk to Work Day, but these aren’t the times your employees have a pressing need. And that thing we call “the portal,” the one-stop-shop for every benefit need? Your employees aren’t visiting it. It turns out that if you build it, they may not come after all.
Why is it that this “portal and push” approach doesn’t work?
Well, if we learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that people just don’t care until they care. They’re not thinking about their benefits. They don’t even consider them… until their kid breaks an arm, they realize a visit to a therapist is in order, or they’re faced with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
People don’t care until they care, and these legacy approaches don’t succeed in capturing anyone’s attention.
And what’s more, the entire ecosystem lacks trust. We’re only receptive to advice if we trust what’s being presented. And yet, this element of trust is thwarted all over the place in healthcare. It’s missing because people inherently aren’t forthcoming about their health data—it could be embarrassing, or maybe they feel it could threaten their job. And second, employees have a natural distrust of the providers, vendors and administrators who provide benefits information. They know there’s a web of misaligned incentives underlying these sources. Heck, even you as their employer are seen as having ulterior motives.
Where we’re headed: a whole new way to engage
It’s time to find better ways of connecting with employees in the moments they need care, and create trust in a system that lacks it.
Instead of promoting mental health benefits via an email announcing Mental Health Month, let’s provide guidance to the employee when they submit a claim for an out-of-network therapist that costs them too much money. We need to engage employees at the moments when their benefits are top-of-mind, and we need to create trust by showing them why it matters.
For the past decade, you’ve put your trust in ALEX at open enrollment to guide your employees to the right plans and solutions. Our vision for the next decade is to meet employees wherever they are—whether it’s at open enrollment, when they’re trying to access telemedicine, managing their diabetes with Livongo, and more. Moving forward, you can expect a benefits engagement platform—a platform that helps employees make smarter decisions in the moments when your benefits are most meaningful to them. We’re building tools that focus on the most critical factors driving up healthcare costs (and driving down employee well-being), increasing participation in the benefits that fight and reduce those costs, and providing you with insight into usage for each benefit line.
We’re not there yet. We’re building, iterating, talking with you. But as you demand something better, know that we are your partner to reinvent how your employees choose and use benefits, and to help you wrangle healthcare costs that have too long been surging. Together, let’s transform employee benefits from a bloated line item, to a valued and valuable investment in your people.Because, at the end of the day, what’s good for them is good for you, too.
We hope you’ll join us.