One Place 2016 | Fender's Approach to HDHPs

Heather Vertrees, Benefits Manager at Fender Musical Instruments, shares the tools that have helped her team drive participation in HDHP adoption and wellness programs.

Heather: Fender just introduced high deductible plans for the 2016 plan year, and really, our strategy was that we recognize we have a lot of different generations in our workforce. And so, not one plan fits everybody's needs and that everybody's needs is very different. And so, we took the approach of having choice in our strategy and having just the right amount of choice. So, we offer PPO plans, we offer HMO plans, and now we offer high deductible plans. And we had a goal of having at least 20% enrollment into our high deductible plans, and we actually got 25% enrollment, which was very good for us. But we also looked at our contribution strategy as well and tried to place those plans at a low cost to try to drive adoption into them, and hopefully, those employees are going to be better consumers and help us to control our healthcare cost increases that we continue to see.
Interviewer: Fantastic. So, a follow on to that, have you seen an impact in the HRA or HSA adoption of your employees?
Amanda: Absolutely. They're contributing more because they know now. We're trying to educate them on how to use that, whether we offer incentives through a wellness program or if we somewhat maybe lower a couple co-pays on urgent care versus ER. They're starting to use those dollars and understand that they can use it, it contributes towards their deductible. And then, they're realizing that they're meeting those requirements.
Interviewer: Okay.
Heather: Well, we're hoping that the word gets out to our employees of how good the high deductible plans are, and that the following year, in 2017, that we would get more adoption into those programs and then potentially, look at adding an HSA. We wanted to start off with an HRA because we thought it was easier to understand. And we really talked about how it works well with an FSA, which we have quite a bit adoption in an FSA program. So that was, you know, our strategy but we're hoping to grow that and get more adoption as, you know, the years go by. 
Fender, we have a very robust wellness program and we like to look at our data and figure out where we're seeing trends and what chronic conditions we have in our workforce and then we try to tailor our wellness program to that. And, I think, the key is being able to look at that data and then try to find solutions that would impact those conditions and hopefully improve those conditions within the plan. So, we're continuing to look at that, but I think having the data and looking at the analytics piece is just key to that. 
Prior to 2012, before we started our journey with Benefitfocus, we were paper-based in terms of how employees enrolled in their benefits. And we just ripped off that band-aid and we went straight to self-service, and it's been great. Now, it was a change and our employees struggled with it a little bit at first but now, several years into it, they're excited about being able to go online and have access to their benefit information 24/7, from any computer. And we just, you know, drive them to that. And we also have a very large Spanish-speaking population in our manufacturing facilities, and having the Benefitfocus platform available in Spanish has been absolutely fantastic. And having that available to them drives them to wanna go on to the computer and go through their enrollment. And it allows my team, a very small team, to be able to focus on, you know, other meaningful projects than, you know, filling out paper and filing paper. 
From Fender's perspective, we've only, since 2012, we've only had active enrollment twice. So, we take the approach of, unless we have major changes happening, we don't do active enrollment because it's a lot of work, and it's a lot of effort. So, we did active enrollment the first year we started with Benefitfocus in 2012, and we had about 99% engagement. And then, we just had active enrollment for the 2016 plan year. So in October of 2015, we had active enrollment. And that's because we introduced the high deductible plans. We also had some voluntary products that we introduced. So, we really wanted employees to be focused on making a decision. And from my perspective, that's really the only way that we get employees to sit down and really think about what plans that they are enrolling in. But it's a lot of work from an HR perspective, so we take the approach that we only do it whenever we have major changes. And that's usually where we want to see adoption into certain programs, and we try to drive that.
Interviewer: Great. With different plan options and the number of available benefit options increasing, how do you help your employees find the options that are right for them? What tools have been the most effective for your employees when selecting benefits?
Heather: Do you want to take that one too?
Amanda: No. No.
Woman: Too much of it.
Woman: No, I can't help you with that one.
Interviewer: Okay. So... Heather is our gal. 
Heather: So, the tools, from a decision support perspective, we, this passive enrollment, introduced the guided shopping. Does anybody else use the guided shopping?
Interviewer: This is the interactive part.
Heather: Yeah.
Interviewer: No? Anybody else? No? [inaudible 00:06:01]. 
Heather: So, guided shopping is when enrolling in a medical plan, before doing that, it will ask you a couple of questions, in terms of how often do you use your insurance? How much are you willing to pay? And then based upon how you answer those questions, it guides you into a certain plan. So, we really felt like we needed to give our employees some additional tools to help them make the best decision. So, we introduced guided shopping and then we also introduced... Well, we've had the planned shopping app in our application for quite some time, but because we've had passive enrollments, employees really aren't using it. So, we really put a lot of emphasis on the planned shopping app as well, so employees could take that additional step to dig in a little bit deeper to figure out what medical plans might be best for them and their families. So, those are some of the tools that we've introduced within the platform. But we also spend a lot of time sitting down with our employees as well and, you know, talking through with them, their scenario and their situations, and really trying to get them to think about what medical plan is best for them.