The ACA provision for young adults allows individuals to remain on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26. New findings from the ADP Research Institute® indicate that this may be influencing health care participation rates. The 2016 ADP® Health Benefits Report highlights that employees under 26 have markedly low participation when compared with the general population.
Participation Rates among Millennials
Although employees aged 16–25 have increased eligibility, just like other age groups, participation is not as common in this younger demographic. In 2016, eligibility continued to rise, reaching 91 percent with 69 percent of the total population participating. Considering that number jumps to 71 percent participation among employees in the 26 to 34 age group, it may seem strange that only 44 percent of those under the age of 26 choose to participate.
A variety of factors may be at play, including the fact that younger employees have lower incomes and tend to place a lower priority on health care. Additionally, younger employees may choose to remain on a parent's health plan until age 26 (as permitted by the ACA's extended dependent coverage provision) rather than paying to participate in their own employer's coverage.
Given that millennials represent the largest segment of the workforce, according to Pew Research, HR departments need to be ready for a fresh batch of enrollments every year as a new crop of millennials turns 26 and loses their ACA dependent provision eligibility.
Here's a closer look at four ways HR leaders can prepare for an increase in benefits enrollment.
1. Invest in Human Capital Management (HCM) and Self-Service Solutions
Benefits enrollment comes with a significant increase in the volume of inquiries that HR teams need to address, relative to both administrative and employee assistance issues. HCM systems and benefits software with self-service solutions allow employees to handle routine requests such as basic enrollment, updating their information or checking premiums online. By using this technology to eliminate mundane administrative tasks, your HR team will have more time available to provide high-value services such as answering questions and supporting staff.
2. Create Communications Geared Toward Millennials
Benefits communication strategies are no longer one-size-fits-all. Increasingly, organizations are focusing on different demographic groups that may have varied concerns — for example, those just launching their careers versus those rapidly approaching retirement. A demographically flexible communications strategy should include messaging, Q&As and a regularly updated enterprise intranet. While printed materials may be standard, millennials are more likely to appreciate information that's available in mobile-optimized formats including online microsites and videos. It may also be helpful to utilize mobile-friendly communication formats, such as chat platforms, so HR reps can quickly and efficiently answer questions.
3. Forecast Potential Enrollment Increases
HR leaders don't have to be caught off guard by a deluge of enrollment requests. Using the data analytics capabilities of benefits software and HCM systems, it's possible to look at how many employees are likely to consider signing up during your next enrollment period as a result of passing the age limit of 26. By forecasting potential enrollment increases in advance, capacity planning for administrative work and needed HR support can be streamlined.
4. Look to Your Providers for Extra Support
If you're anticipating an increase in enrollments, consider partnering with benefits providers for additional support. Many will have experts on hand that can conduct information sessions, provide one-on-one support to employees enrolling for the first time and phone and chat agents that can answer general questions. By booking these resources in advance, you're able to remove some of the administrative and employee support burdens from your internal staff.
As millennials become ineligible for plans under their parents' health care coverage, organizations may see higher levels of participation. By forecasting demand, focusing on communicating in millennial-friendly formats and eliminating repetitive administrative work through automated human capital management systems, organizations can be prepared for a possible surge in enrollments during any upcoming open enrollment period.
To learn more about the latest health benefits trends, download the ADP report now: 2016 ADP® Health Benefits Report
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