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One-third of American workers don’t understand benefits selected during open enrollment

Insurance Forums Staff

More than a third of employees don’t fully understand any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during their most recent open enrollment period.

That’s according to a new consumer survey from Voya Financial, Inc., further revealing that working Americans will increasingly be turning to their employers in 2021 for education, support and guidance to better understand their workplace benefits.

And while 35% admitted they didn’t fully understand any of their benefits, the percentage rises among younger workers — with more than half (54%) of Millennials reporting they don’t understand their benefit selections.

“Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic taught many individuals that they need to be ready for the unexpected, which includes protecting themselves from unplanned health-related expenses that could deplete their emergency and retirement savings,” said Rob Grubka, president of Voya Employee Benefits.

“As a result, Voya’s latest survey shows that nearly 6-in-10 American workers (56%) spent more time reviewing their benefits offered by their employer during the fall open enrollment period. This is good news suggesting that many employees did not simply hit the ‘default button’ during open enrollment and likely signed up for additional workplace benefits,” Grubka added. “The challenge now in 2021 — especially among younger workers, like Millennials — is providing ongoing support and education to help employees understand how to maximize their new benefit selections to address their holistic financial wellness needs.”

Voya’s latest survey reveals that the majority of working Americans are eager for education, guidance and support from their employers. Two-thirds of employees (66%) indicated they want their employer to help them better understand their employee benefits throughout the year — not just at open enrollment. Interestingly, this number jumps for younger workers with 78% of Millennials reporting they would like more communications about their workplace benefits throughout 2021. Additionally, more than 7-in-10 of employees (73%) are interested in support and guidance tools that help them understand how much money to put aside for retirement, emergency savings and health-care expenses.

“Supplemental health benefits like accident insurance, hospital indemnity insurance and critical illness insurance can be confusing — especially for younger workers, who might have enrolled in these coverages for the first time due to the pandemic,” said Andrew Frend, SVP of Product and Strategy, Voya Employee Benefits. “Plus, with COVID-19 shining a spotlight on the need for greater financial security, the challenge for employers moving forward will be connecting health and wealth benefits as their employees continue to have an increasing need for budgeting, planning and guidance resources.”

Fortunately, Frend said benefits providers can help employers by: providing robust education programs; developing engaging, year-round communication campaigns; and offering innovative digital tools to help their employees understand and maximize their workplace benefits.

Voya recently launched a new HSA digital assistant called “myHealthMoney” to help employees plan for future health-care expenses. In 2021, Voya is working to enhance the capabilities of the tool to help Americans make informed benefits decisions and manage their income across competing health, savings and spending demands.



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