The Importance of Measuring Employee Satisfaction with Healthcare Benefits

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A recent survey conducted by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) indicates that 56 percent of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits say that whether or not they like their health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job. Another 46 percent say health insurance was either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current job. A successful employee retention strategy needs to prioritize a healthy workforce that feels empowered to use their healthcare options not just as an emergency measure, but as an important tool to maintain preventive care, overall well-being, and happiness.

Driven by low unemployment rates and a competitive job market, employee turnover is increasing. This means that, if a nonprofit wants to retain their employees, they’ll need to look at their healthcare benefits as a strategic part of recruitment and retention.

Danielle Ledford, Vice President at Nonstop Administration and Insurance Services, Inc.An important first step is to shrewdly evaluate your current health benefits program. Utilizing a professional survey team to create a standard employee engagement survey is inexpensive, straightforward, and ultimately saves resources.

Employee engagement surveys require only a small expenditure, but they can yield long-lasting impact. For example, we can look at a case study from Unity Health Care, a nonprofit community health center that regularly uses a professional survey firm to measure employee satisfaction. Unity uses a range of surveys that gauge factors such as employee morale, satisfaction with the benefits package, and overall engagement.

Unity’s research and survey strategy has paid off by motivating them to reconsider their benefits broker and health benefits strategy. A few years ago, Unity switched to a high deductible health plan, with the employer covering some of the deductibles. But the employee share of costs continued to rise year after year. Soon, employees used the surveys to express dissatisfaction with their remaining exposure to co-pays, deductibles, and total out-of-pocket costs.

The revelation that employees were dissatisfied with Unity’s benefits package and were avoiding seeking care because of cost motivated Unity to dedicate the time and resources to discover a new way for them to fund their employee health insurance. When premiums with their health insurance carrier were about to increase again, Unity’s President and CEO, Vincent A. Keane, took action. In collaboration with Unity’s CFO and HR leaders, Unity made the decision to leave the traditional fully-insured model of health insurance. Instead, Unity opted for Nonstop Wellness, a partially self-insured program, to control the cost of benefits without slashing benefits coverage.

In addition to providing their employees with platinum level coverage, switching to Nonstop Wellness provided Unity with control over their employee health insurance costs, resulting in a significant premium reduction. The organization’s commitment to annual surveys opened the way for change. Beyond learning about Nonstop Wellness, Unity’s change in approach allowed them to increase their level of engagement with employees, which led to an overall rise in satisfaction within their organization.

It’s not enough to simply meet the standard minimum for employee health benefits. Yet many nonprofits feel overwhelmed with their health insurance options and lack the necessary information to know all of the choices available, which can often lead to choosing a health benefits option based primarily on lowest premium costs while ignoring the importance of usability. Unity and other nonprofits have discovered that, while offering health insurance is important, satisfaction will quickly erode if employees feel they can’t afford to use it. The important thing to know is that there are options and assistance available. In addition to Nonstop Wellness, many state associations of nonprofits offer health insurance options to smaller nonprofits.

Health insurance plan design matters, especially for nonprofit employees who often can’t afford high copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. And the best way to know what is working for your nonprofit’s employees and what isn’t is to start by asking.

Note: For any readers who would like to learn more about Nonstop Wellness, you can register to attend a free, hour-long webinar.


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