Aflac Survey: Only 24% of Employees Fully Understand Their Benefits

A new survey of 5,000 U.S. workers has found that while many employees feel confident after completing their annual health benefits enrollment, about 3 in 4 are making benefits decisions without a complete knowledge of the overall plan.

The survey, conducted by Lightspeed GMI and released by Aflac, found that 55% of employees felt “secure” or a sense of accomplishment after completing benefits enrollment through their employer and 67% were confident they understood everything for which they signed up during benefits enrollment.

However, when asked specifically about understanding their overall policies, like deductibles, copays and providers in their network, only 24% of surveyed employees could answer that they understood everything.

These results indicate a troubling trend, as Aflac noted in its press release announcing the results of the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report:  In 2015, 47% of surveyed employees conveyed that they understood everything about their benefits, a figure that dropped to 39% in 2016, and still further this year.

“It’s counterintuitive to see that workers are reporting a positive benefits enrollment experience, but so many are still struggling with a good understanding of the various aspects of their health care coverage,” said Matthew Owenby, senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac, said in the press release. “Benefits enrollment is one of the most important decisions a worker can make each year. Ensuring workers are more educated will require a sustained effort by employers and employees alike to better understand all aspects of benefits, including coverage options and costs.” related Aflac survey focused specifically on 20-26 year-olds employed full or part time—it found that 51% of these young workers will be experiencing their first health benefits enrollment this year. This survey, conducted by Research+Data Insights Inc. among 1,000 young employees, found that only 19% feel confident going into the process and just 31% feel prepared.

“For all workers, but especially young adults, choosing benefits is complex and filled with unfamiliar terminology, which leaves them feeling overwhelmed and possibly deterred from signing up for the right insurance coverage that they need,” added Owenby in the same press release. “Many young adults are also staying on their parents’ insurance plans longer than ever before, delaying the need and opportunity to educate themselves about health care benefits.”