Is the ‘Right Healthcare Plan’ an Employee Benefits Myth?

Google the phrase ‘how to choose the right healthcare plan’ and you will be greeted with more results than you can read in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t forget the videos, either. You will have plenty to watch after you’re done reading. When the dust settles and your mind can take no more, will you be any better off? Is it possible that the ‘right healthcare plan’ concept is an employee benefits myth?

A recent CNBC report discussing how to choose the right healthcare plan cited a study at a major Fortune 100 company suggesting that the majority of its employees chose the wrong insurance plan. For the record, the study was conducted among 24,000 employees, among whom 61% could have saved hundreds of dollars by choosing a different plan.

That is all well and good, but is price the sole determining factor in figuring out the best plan for you? Moreover, is there a right plan for you among the limited options your employer offers?

Only A Few Choices

One of the harsh realities of employee benefits is that employees do not actually get a lot of choices. There are a lot of choices out there, but by the time they filter down to employer-sponsored plans, they have been reduced to near nothing. As an example, consider BenefitMall and its benefit brokers.

As a general agency, BenefitMall represents more than a hundred carriers. They provide general agency services to thousands of brokers. Those brokers have access to all the over hundred carriers and the products they offer. But few and far between are the brokers that present every single option to their clients.

Instead, brokers work with employers to figure out which products are most appropriate. They take hundreds of products and reduce them to a shortlist. That shortlist is then offered to the employer, who makes it even shorter before turning around and offering plans to employees. The way the system works means that hundreds of choices can be narrowed down to just two or three by the time they reach the employee.

No Perfect Healthcare Plan

A lack of choices is only the first problem employees face. A second problem, and perhaps a bigger one, is the fact that there is no perfect healthcare plan. The reality of health insurance is that nearly all plans cover essentially the same things. Premiums and deductibles may differ from time to time, but laws like the Health Maintenance Organization Act and the Affordable Care Act have pretty much defined what insurance carriers must offer in their plans.

With so little variation from one plan to the next, how is it even possible for consumers to find the right one? There is no right one. Employees can only choose the best option among those they are given. And unfortunately, the best option often doesn’t meet employee needs as well as it should.

Perhaps that’s why MetLife’s 2021 Employee Benefit Trends Study shows that 93% of employees want customizable benefits plans. Employees are coming to terms with the fact that one-size-fits-all health insurance doesn’t work in the modern world. They want to be able to customize their insurance plans as well as other aspects of their benefits packages.

You can find lots of online posts explaining how to choose the right healthcare plan for you. But most of those posts have one major flaw: they don’t actually tell you how to do it. They merely offer suggestions of what you should think about and consider. Ultimately, you are left to decide whether there is a right plan for you.