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How Does a Benefits Decision Support Tool Work?

by Caroline Boyland August 5, 2022

What’s a Benefits Decision Support Tool?

For employees, choosing benefits can be stressful and challenging. Benefits decision support tools can be incredibly helpful during open enrollment, qualifying life events, and new hire onboarding. But as tech in the HR space is ever-evolving, it’s hard for HR teams and employees to stay up-to-date on the latest technological advances, and how they can help you save on time and costs. In this blog, we'll break down the basics of decision support and review how it can help you and your employees during benefits enrollment.

The Role Decision Support Can Play

Choosing benefits is one of the most important decisions we make each year, these decisions have a direct impact on our health and financial outcomes for the next 12 months. The challenge, though, is that oftentimes employees don’t know how to look at the plans being offered and find the ones that best fit the needs of themselves and their families.

To better understand why decision support is so helpful, let’s think about it this way…

If you, like myself, are someone who could spend hours on Zillow looking at homes and apartments just for fun, you can definitely appreciate the value of a tool that helps you sort through the noise. Imagine needing a 2 bedroom apartment in a specific area of New York City, but having to parse through every single listing of every apartment, home, and condo for rent or sale in the state of New York. It’s nice to have options, but when they don’t fit your needs or goals, it takes up too much time and becomes incredibly overwhelming to find what would work best for you. Instead, apps like Zillow let you input the number of bedrooms you need, the area you want to live in, whether or not you have pets, and any additional amenities you’d like to factor in—and then present you with a curated list of only the rentals that match your exact needs. A big time saver, right?

Decision support tools for benefits work in a similar way. Choosing your medical, dental, and supplementary benefits plans each year can have major implications on your health and finances, and it’s critical you choose the ones that are best for your unique situation. But how do you know what works best for you? A decision support tool can present you with a short questionnaire, asking you about your health goals, financial plans, family, pets, transportation methods, and more, to get an understanding of what you truly need when it comes to coverage. From there, it can provide you with personalized recommendations of the exact plans that meet your medical and financial needs and goals. Decision support tools make the process of choosing your benefits as simple as a quick Zillow search.

So, How Does a Decision Support Tool Work?

To start, decision support tools gather an understanding of your personal needs and goals. This often comes in the format of a short questionnaire where employees can share the personal data they so choose. These can be health related, like preexisting conditions that require multiple specialist visits per year, or financial related, like how much you hope to have saved in your 401K when you retire.

As a side note, this data is only seen by the employee themselves, and is not passed to their employer, insurance company, the decision support company, or anyone else. Nayya’s decision support technology, for example, upholds the highest standards in data privacy and security, which means that even the company behind the Nayya software can’t see your personal data. 3rd party independent audits constantly ensure that Nayya is both HIPAA and SOC2 compliant, meaning your data is yours.

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The information that you enter into the questionnaire can be leveraged to predict potential health and financial outcomes for the year ahead. Bike to work? You may be more likely to get an injury on your commute. Your rambunctious middle schooler had to visit the pediatrician more than 5 times last year? There may be more doctor visits in your future.

Whatever the case may be, each employee is extremely unique—with different family structures, lifestyles, health conditions, financial backgrounds, and other factors that can contribute to your benefit needs. The first goal of a decision support tool is to learn what makes you you.

Then What?

Once the decision support tool has developed a comprehensive understanding of your background, the fun part begins. The decision support tool will take a look at all of the medical, dental, vision, and supplementary plans that your organization offers, cross reference them with your profile, and present you with a personalized “shopping-cart-like” bundle of each plan that would be best for you, including recommendations for contribution amounts to your 401K, HSA, FSA, or other savings program.

You’ll be presented with benefits education and personalized recommendations. For example, because you said you bike to work, maybe you want to consider an Accident Insurance Plan. The tool can then explain to you what that accident plan is, how much it’ll cost, and how it’ll benefit you if you get into a bicycle fender-bender on your morning commute. That pediatrician that you’re seeing more than you’d like to? (No offense to the pediatrician) You’ll want to make sure the plan that you choose has that doctor in-network, and that the coverage you choose makes sense for your growing family.

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Financial Planning

One of the best benefits (no pun intended) of a benefits decision support tool? The ability to see exactly how your pre-tax contributions to different savings plans add up, and how they’ll grow in the future. With a benefits decision support tool, you can play around with different percentages, seeing for example how a 3% contribution to your 401K will compare to a 7% contribution 30 years from now. This gives employees confidence and understanding when making benefits decisions. They can see exactly where their money is going and how it’ll grow—making them all the more likely to contribute to those pre-tax savings accounts.

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For employees, the advantages of using a decision support tool when choosing benefits are clear as day. The technology helps employees make the best decisions for the health and finances for themselves and their families. Research shows that 63% of employees are unconfident when selecting benefits—decision support can help HR teams bring that number way, way down.

To sum it up, a decision support tool provides an overview of the plans that make the most sense for you, these could include:

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Life
  • Accident
  • Fertility
  • Mental health
  • Physical wellness
  • Short & Long term disability
  • Critical illness
  • Hospital indemnity
  • And any other benefits your employer offers

What are the Benefits for HR?

For HR leaders, providing benefits education, driving participation and engagement, and trying to do more with less (read: less stress, less budget, less resources), can feel like an uphill battle. A decision support tool streamlines the enrollment process for HR, providing the comprehensive, unique education that employees need to make smarter benefits decisions. When employees are more educated on their options, it drives up confidence and understanding, leading to increased plan participation because employees actually know what their different plans are. A decision support tool can mean the difference between hitting your participation goals in those supplementary benefits programs. On top of driving education, confidence, and participation, a decision support tool leads to increased employee contributions in pre-tax savings programs like 401K, HSA, and FSA plans, which creates payroll tax savings for employers. It’s important to also remember that a decision support tool is different than a BenAdmin. Nayya is here to enrich, not replace, your existing approach to benefits, and works seamlessly with BenAdmins, HCM, carriers, and brokers. If these outcomes align with your open enrollment goals this year, it may be time to consider a decision support tool like Nayya. Nayya offers personalized decision support that drives more educated, confident benefits decisions. For HR teams, Nayya increases plan participation and engagement, delivers employer and employee cost-savings, and creates more satisfied employees, bolstering your talent attraction and retention efforts. With Nayya, benefits enrollment becomes the ultimate win-win-win for HR, your employer, and your employees.

Ready to learn more about the benefits experience that everyone deserves? Learn more here.

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