5 Reasons Employees Don’t Use Their Wellness Benefits

June 20, 2017

Patrick Spain

In today’s ultra-competitive economy, all firms want the greatest impact for every dollar spent.  In the employee benefits arena, companies are asking brokers and consultants for ideas where added spending will increase their competitive position by increasing employee productivity and helping these firms to retain their best workers by improving the quality of their lives.

This employer focus on effective spending also means the worst possible outcome is the introduction, and added expense, of a new employee benefit that employees simply ignore.

Since our inception, First Stop Health has focused on transforming employee telemedicine benefits by ensuring we provide employers with high utilization. With an average usage in 2018 of 56% across all our employer groups, we are the industry leader.

We spend a lot of time studying why some wellness benefits are never fully embraced by employees. Our goal in this ongoing research is to ensure our high usage service continues to avoid these errors. 

When we meet with human resources executives at large and mid-size firms, they typically describe five reasons why employees simply ignore a seemingly valuable, new employee benefit:

Employee awareness of new wellness benefits is low 

In some cases, a new employee benefit is announced at the same time as the annual discussion of health, life and disability benefits; while the written description of this benefit may occupy a single paragraph in a lengthy collection of materials.  Here, the new benefit is simply lost as employees focus on more immediate issues associated with the ever-changing details of healthcare coverage.

Employees don’t understand the full value of the new benefit. 

In other cases, employees may have a vague idea that a wellness benefit exists. But, awareness is not enough.  Employees don’t use the benefit because they don’t fully understand how to take advantage of it; or how it will make them, and their families, better off.

HR is strained

No company has excess staffing in its human resources department. If employee awareness and understanding of a wellness benefit places new demands on the human resources team, the benefit will inevitably fail to be used.  Indeed, at First Stop Health, we believe one of the central reasons we have achieved a utilization rate that is over seven times higher than our industry’s largest provider, is we do all the work in implementation. From start to finish, we provide a turn-key service that is customized for each employer. 

The benefit is not easy for employees to use  

As employer benefits extend beyond health, life and disability insurance, they may also involve unnecessary hurdles that prevent employee use.  When employees are, for example, required to invest time before they can use the benefit, utilization drops dramatically. That’s why we don’t require employees to fill-out forms before they can access our service.

Cost-sharing features create a barrier to adoption.

By nature, people are often hesitant to try something new, even when it seems appealing. It’s why so many new products are launched with free-trial offers. This basic aspect of behavior applies, as well, to the use of employee benefits. When a new benefit includes an out-of-pocket cost, employee adoption can stall. By offering unlimited telemedicine consults, with no copay in most instances, we eliminate this potential obstacle.

Originally published Jun 20, 2017 1:03:00 PM.