How a Healthcare Navigation Service Helps During Open Enrollment

Dave Guttman

Open Enrollment is here, and employees aren’t exactly excited. In fact, one-third of employees said they felt annoyance or dread around Open Enrollment.Why? Lack of confidence in their plans. Just 10% of employees say they feel confident in the benefits choices they make during Open Enrollment. This uncertainty just adds to their well-founded anxiety about possible premium increases, as large employers expect healthcare costs to rise about 6% in 2020.

Amid all this confusion, fear and anticipation, employees need assistance navigating their benefits options during Open Enrollment. Human Resources can do its best to communicate deadlines, costs and plans, but its slim resources are often stretched. Additionally, HR personnel lack the in-depth expertise of insurance companies’ benefits specialists, and cannot be expected to know the intricate ins and outs of every plan. Employees are often left to call the insurance provider themselves.

That’s where a healthcare navigation service comes in.

What is a healthcare navigation service?

A healthcare navigation service — also called health advisory or care navigation service — is a personalized service that helps employees navigate the healthcare landscape, from choosing an insurance plan to finding a specialist.

A high-quality healthcare navigation service will assign a dedicated adviser to each employee. This high-touch adviser will be available via phone or email to offer healthcare guidance, answering any questions about medical, dental, prescription and ancillary benefits.

How can a healthcare navigation service help during Open Enrollment?

A healthcare navigation service can assist by alleviating many, if not all, of the frustrations employees experience during Open Enrollment.

Advisers can discuss what employees need in a plan, and take the time to walk employees through plan options and prices. Gone is the uncertainty inherent in weighing covered services, copays, deductibles and coinsurance on their own.

Results for employers

Many employers are already seeing the benefits of adding services like healthcare navigation. According to SHRM about 60% of employers plan to offer a full, high-touch healthcare navigation service. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (78%) of employers plan to offer more limited medical-decision support tools.

These new services are being offered for several reasons: (1) they help employees, (2) they can save employers money by reducing expensive claims, and, (3) during Open Enrollment, they can take some of the burden off HR by walking employees through a confusing process.

As employers and employees white-knuckle their way through Open Enrollment, consider how a supplementary benefit like a healthcare navigation service can help.