Communicating, Not Compelling, Is the Driver for Decision-Support Tools: bswift Blog


Communicating, Not Compelling, Is the Driver for Decision-Support Tools

by Brad Wolfsen, Senior Vice President, bswift

November 24th, 2015

We’re pleased to see our client The Cheesecake Factory is among a handful of employers featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article about how employees benefit from decision-support tools like Ask Emma.

It’s great to see our clients featured in the media; we bswifters feel privileged to play a part in their success, like when helping their employees make sound benefits choices.

The article highlights a major challenge that we industry experts focus on: Getting employees to understand—let alone switch—medical plans is difficult. With so much complexity and, increasingly, more employee financial responsibility involved in choosing a plan, employers face an uphill climb to convince workers to break away from the familiar and choose a plan that’s better suited to their health and financial needs.

That’s why we’re glad The Cheesecake Factory experience is featured—to show employers what’s possible when they make a conscious investment in decision support. In the first year that the company offered our decision-support product, Ask Emma, close to 90% of employees used the tool. As the article noted, more than half of employees followed Emma’s advice and selected her top-ranked plan. What’s more, 93% of surveyed staff members who used Ask Emma said the tool was useful in deciding which plans best fit their needs.

Those statistics indicate the most important takeaway: Ask Emma isn’t about “forcing” employees into a plan that’s not appropriate for them. Communication, not cajoling, is the key driver; when people know what’s available and how to choose wisely, those improved decisions elevate everyone—employers, employees, and their families.

Sandy Sakaida, Director of Benefits at The Cheesecake Factory, sums it up well in the article: “Our goal was that they understood the options and chose the most appropriate plan for themselves and their families. If they did end up enrolling in that least expensive option, they knew it was the best fit for them.”

Learn more about Ask Emma and her innovative approach to benefits shopping, enrollment and education.

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