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Survey: Employees still under-informed on ACA, wellness

Originally posted November 8, 2013 by Tristan Lejeune on ebn.benefitnews.com

Only 15.1% of workers at large employers say they are “knowledgeable” or “very knowledgeable” about health care reform and the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges, and nearly one in five can’t say for sure if their company has a wellness program or not, according a recent survey. The poll’s results, released this month, speak to a population that has confidence in the communication efforts of their benefits administrators, and that points out some serious shortfalls in that communication.

The survey, which spoke with 400 employees at companies with north of 2,000 each, found that only 29.5% could correctly identify times when they can make changes to their health plans, like open enrollment, according to the Jellyvison Labs. Jellyvision, which created ALEX, a virtual employee benefits counselor, says all but one of the employers involved in the survey offer health insurance, but employees still demonstrate large education gaps on their own benefits.

More than 90% of surveyed workers say it’s at least “somewhat important” to understand ACA and its implications, but less than a fifth actually consider themselves knowledgeable. The good news is employee confidence in their employers’ ability to communicate the necessary information is high: nearly 80% think their companies can properly bring them up to speed, and more than one in three rate their confidence levels on this point at eight or higher on a 10-point scale.

Some 77.6% of those polled agree that it is at least “somewhat important” for their organizations to offer a wellness program, but almost one-fifth don’t know with any certainty whether or not their company does so.

“One of the most important things we learned from this data,” says Josh Fosburg, vice president of business development for the Jellyvision Lab, “is employees aren’t getting everything they need to know about their employers’ wellness programs and other benefits. For instance, nearly half of employees in our survey think they have to pay something in order to take advantage of the wellness programming that will help them manage their weight, stay on top of their prescribed medications, or cease smoking. That’s bananas.”

Jellyvision says employers need to “up their communications game” in order to help employees take advantage of everything included in their benefits offerings.