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Most employees say benefits enrollment information lacking: Survey

Most employees say benefits enrollment information lacking: Survey

A majority of employees said they aren't receiving adequate enrollment information about their company's benefit plans, according to an Aflac Inc. survey released this week.

Fifty-two percent of the more than 2,500 employees who responded to New York-based Aflac's 2012 Open Enrollment Survey indicated their employers have not distributed any communication regarding upcoming open enrollment periods. Thirty-nine percent said they were only somewhat prepared for open enrollments, while 26% said they were unprepared or very unprepared.

The survey's findings offer a sharp contrast to employers' assessments of the effectiveness of their benefits communications strategies, outlined in a separate Aflac survey released in April. In that study, 49% of the 1,800 employers who responded characterized their benefits communications as very or extremely effective.

In a statement released Tuesday, Aflac executive vice president Audrey Boone Tillman said deficiencies in benefits communication and outreach strategies, particularly those related to open enrollment periods, often lead employees to make costly mistakes regarding their health care, retirement and other employer-sponsored plans.

“If employers do not regularly educate workers about benefits offerings, their employees could face difficult financial challenges,” Ms. Tillman said in the release. “Workers want to understand their insurance options, but many don't believe they have the information or the tools they need. Open enrollment is a crucial time for employers to help workers make smart choices about their physical and financial health.”

Forty-eight percent of employees surveyed said they are only “sometimes” aware of changes made each year in their benefit plans, and another 13% said they are rarely or never aware of changes made.

Exactly half of the employees surveyed somewhat or strongly agreed that they would be better informed about their health insurance choices if they were given the opportunity to meet with an insurance consultant during open enrollment.