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Q&A: How to Unlock Benefits Participation — Why Employees Underutilize Voluntary Benefits

by Nayya Marketing July 20, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, employers are prioritizing employee well-being, striving to meet their workforces’ diverse needs by offering a wide breadth of benefits.

This article highlights key points discussed during our recent webinar, Proven Strategy to Boost Voluntary Benefits, moderated by Nikhil Naidu, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Nayya, with special guest Sharon Cunninghis, Nayya's VP of Partnerships and a veteran in health and benefits consulting.

Let's start with the big picture, what's happening in the health and benefits world today?

Employers have made great strides over the last few years increasing investments in their workforce and a large part of those investments go towards employee benefits. That includes benefits such as a variety of health plans, access to new point solutions such as mental health applications, and the option to enroll in voluntary benefits like life insurance.

But with more options, comes its own set of hurdles. In order for employees to get the most out of their benefits, they not only need to be aware of their options, but also need to understand them in order to make the best selections for their individual situations.

As open enrollment continues to become more complex, what are recurring themes in your conversations with HR leaders regarding benefits utilization, and how can employers overcome these challenges?

Technology continually comes up. Many HR leaders know they need technology in order to deploy personalized experiences to increase employee awareness and ultimately engagement. So when they’re considering implementing a new solution, keeping options that can address those key issues top of mind is a must, because without new technologies employees are struggling… really struggling.

In fact, even those of us who have worked in the benefits world for years struggle to put together our individual benefits selections. It's like being tasked with putting together a puzzle, but the picture on the cover is missing, so you’re making best guesses at putting together the puzzle. That's how hard it's become to select benefits.

Going back to voluntary benefits specifically, what are current trends and developments you’re seeing?

These types of benefits have become more comprehensive over the years. Take critical illness policies for example, they now cover a broader range of services, including wellness benefits.

What most employees don’t know is they can often pay lower total premiums when they combine a medical plan with supplemental health benefits compared to choosing a standalone medical plan. By selecting the right combination, employees can optimize their coverage and reduce out-of-pocket expenses, but the likelihood that they know this is low.

The Value of Personalized Benefits

When thinking about benefits personalization, what does it mean to employees and how can technologies like Nayya help?

Every individual has unique prevention and care needs, decision-making styles, health history, financial situation, and preferences. Employees want, and most importantly need, to have benefits that meet these individual needs. When benefits are personalized, it is easier to appreciate their value. While educating employees about benefits is crucial, Nayya is also focused on providing direction to help employees in both choosing and using their benefits.

Many employees aren't insurance experts, so Nayya simplifies the process by leveraging data and machine learning (ML) to bundle recommended benefits selections (inclusive of clinical care point solutions and voluntary benefits), so employees are shown relevant personalized scenarios that assist them in understanding how all these benefits work together.

Nayya intakes a lot of very personal data about individuals and their families. Can you talk a little bit about what we do on the data security and privacy side?

Data privacy and security are at the core of everything we do. We recognize that brand safety and trust are increasingly important in today’s new digital reality, and nowhere is this more evident than in how your data is collected, used, and protected. We’ve heavily invested in our security framework and take a privacy-forward approach with all of our products and services.

We’re SOC 2, HIPAA, and CCPA compliant so employers and employees can be confident that personal data is well protected. In addition, all individual employee data shared with Nayya is kept completely confidential and will not be provided to anyone, including employers.

Nayya In Action

Despite the value and affordability of these plans, voluntary benefits enrollment remains low. Can you explain why you think that is and how organizations can address these challenges to increase participation?

I teased this earlier, but one of the main reasons is the overwhelming number of choices employees are facing. Frankly, it's daunting, especially without support. Also, very few people are insurance experts, so the average person has no idea what a supplemental health policy is, what the benefits are, and why they should choose it.

To increase voluntary benefits participation, it’s important to focus holistically on a plan including communication, education, personalization, flexibility, and simplifying the enrollment process through the use of technology.

In the past, insurance carriers and consultants used to explain coverages at the worksite, but this approach is costly and time-consuming. Today, solutions like Nayya offer a tech-enabled alternative.

We think of Nayya’s technology as a “benefits delivery” platform because it can help employers and consultants focus on these factors and implement their specific benefits strategy. By using data and ML, Nayya can quickly uncover personal effects such as:

  • “How much did I spend on my medical deductible over the past year?”
  • “What does my financial picture look like?”
  • “Does my lifestyle make supplemental coverage more important for me?”
  • “How much should I contribute to my HSA based on my income?”

What kind of results have organizations seen after implementing Nayya?

The impact greatly varies based on the organization’s goals. Overall, organizations experience higher benefits literacy, less time spent by HR teams answering benefits questions, and increased voluntary benefits participation.

For example, some organizations have launched Nayya looking to maximize the adoption of a new medical plan. Recently, a mid-sized group rolled out a new high deductible plan and we saw 22% adoption in the first year. We also see organizations looking to pass cost savings to employees by helping them choose healthcare plans that will facilitate a lower total cost of care. For one of those organizations, we saw 13% of users migrating to a more cost-effective plan.

We have many groups primarily looking to increase overall awareness of and engagement with benefits. Nayya users are 54% more likely to participate in voluntary benefits, contribute 14% more to HSAs, and 75% of Nayya users felt more confident making their benefits decisions.

Ultimately, Nayya’s recommendation becomes an important tool for groups to successfully execute their benefits strategy because we’re solving the benefits comprehension challenge facing consumers.

As OE planning is well underway and a lot of organizations are quite far along in the planning process, what does implementation look like?

The launch process with Nayya is quick and hands-off for employer groups. We handle most of the work, including data collection, building communication plans, and configuring the Nayya platform. Employers or consultants typically get involved during the quality assurance process. The implementation typically takes around 30 days, allowing organizations to be ready for open enrollment.

Getting Started with Nayya

As benefit offerings increase in complexity, it is more important than ever to have a strong benefits delivery strategy, inclusive of voluntary benefits education. Technology platforms like Nayya add the necessary personalization to significantly improve benefits utilization, increase benefits literacy and drive engagement.

If you’re a consultant or employer interested in leveraging our partnerships and technology to enhance your clients' benefits strategies, you can reach out to us directly, or learn more about our partnerships.

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