41 Percent Of Employees Spend Less Than 15 Minutes On Benefits Selection

Selecting the right health insurance plan may be one of the most important decisions Americans will make during open enrollment, yet many workers do very little research on their health benefits. In fact, 41 percent of employees spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefit options during the 2013 open enrollment season; and nearly a quarter (24 percent) spent five minutes or less, according to the 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey. In contrast, American workers typically spend more time:

• researching for new car purchases—10 hours;

• planning family vacations—5 hours;

• shopping for new computers—4 hours; and

• deciding what television to buy—2 hours.

Considering that employees pay an average of $4,565 a year in premiums for an employer-sponsored health plan, the 15 minutes allocated to benefits selections pales in comparison to time spent researching popular consumer purchases.

Common enrollment mistakes. Those who do not set aside time to research their insurance options may make hasty benefits decisions and end up wasting money. The survey found that the majority (90 percent) of workers are “auto-enrolling” or keeping the same benefits year after year. And, 42 percent of workers waste up to $750 each year on mistakes with their insurance benefits. The survey also revealed:

• Most workers (73 percent) only sometimes, rarely, or never understand everything that is covered by their policy.

• More than 6 out of 10 workers (64 percent) sometimes, rarely, or never understand changes in their coverage.

• Sixty-four percent disagree or only somewhat agree that they are more prepared for open enrollment this year compared to last year.

Take advantage of benefits education resources. To be prepared for open enrollment this year, workers should be proactive and take advantage of the benefits education resources available to them. To minimize confusion during the benefits selection process, employers should consider encouraging employees to do the following:

• Carefully review and compare all available benefits information.

• Take time to look up terms you don’t understand such as voluntary insurance, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and others.

• Understand the financial implications your choices have on your budget. In addition to monthly premiums, make sure you can afford the yearly deductible costs. If a high deductible looks like it may be a burden, choose a plan with a slightly higher monthly premium and a lower deductible that is easier to manage.

• Ask your employer to arrange meetings with health care insurance agents or brokers to answer questions.

• Attend on-site seminars, participate in webinars and read the relevant education materials.

The survey was conducted in June and July 2014 among 2,100 U.S. consumers. For more information, visit http://www.aflac.com.
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