COLUMBUS, Ga., Sept. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Selecting the right health insurance plan may be one of the most important decisions Americans will make this open enrollment period, yet many workers do very little research on their health benefits. In fact, 41 percent of employees spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefit options during the 2013 open enrollment season; and nearly a quarter (24 percent) spent five minutes or less according to the newly-released 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey.
The 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey was conducted online among 2,100 U.S. consumers in June and July 2014 by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the leading provider of supplemental insurance in the United States.
In contrast, American workers typically spend more time:
- Researching for new car purchases — 10 hours.
- Planning family vacations — five hours.
- Shopping for new computers — four hours.
- Deciding what television to buy — two hours.
Considering that employees pay an average of $4,565 a year in premiums for an employer-sponsored health plan which helps protect their financial well-being as well as those of their loved ones, the 15 minutes allocated to benefits selections pales in comparison to time spent researching popular consumer purchases.
"It's concerning to learn that many Americans invest time in finding the right television, but may not be taking enough time to choose health benefits that best fit their needs and the needs of their families," said Matthew Owenby, vice president of Human Resources at Aflac. "It's important for workers to educate themselves about their health care options to ensure they select the right insurance coverage that provides protection and avoids costly mistakes down the road."
Common Enrollment Mistakes
Those who don't set aside time to research their insurance options may make hasty benefits decisions and end up wasting money. The Aflac survey found that the majority (90 percent) of workers are "auto-enrolling" or keeping the same benefits year after year. And, 4 in 10 (42 percent) workers waste up to $750 each year on mistakes with their insurance benefits.
The survey also revealed:
- Most workers (73 percent) only sometimes, rarely or never understand everything that is covered by their policy.
- More than 6 out of 10 workers (64 percent) sometimes, rarely or never understand changes in their coverage.
- 64 percent disagree or only somewhat agree that they are more prepared for open enrollment this year compared to last year.
Take Advantage of Benefits Education Resources
To be prepared for open enrollment this year, it's essential for workers to be proactive and take advantage of the benefits education resources available to them. To minimize confusion during the benefits selection process, Owenby suggests the following:
- Carefully review and compare all available benefits information. Take time to look up terms you don't understand such as voluntary insurance, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and others.
- Understand the financial implications your choices have on your budget. In addition to monthly premiums, make sure you can afford the yearly deductible costs. If a high deductible looks like it may be a burden, choose a plan with a slightly higher monthly premium and a lower deductible that is easier to manage.
- Ask your employer to arrange meetings with health care insurance agents or brokers to answer questions.
- Attend on-site seminars, participate in webinars and read the relevant education materials.
About the Aflac WorkForces Report
The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fourth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. The study, conducted by Research Now, captures responses from 1,856 benefits decision-makers and 5,209 employees across the U.S. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.
Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the research contained two components – employer research and employee research. The Employer Survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 7-23, 2014, among 1,856 benefits decision-makers. Results were representative of U.S. companies with at least three employees based on company size (number of employees) and industry. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Employee Survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 7-27, 2014, among 5,209 employed adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees and not retired. The first 3,124 interviews were nationally representative while the remaining 2,085 interviews were conducted among the top 20 designated market areas (DMAs) – 100+ interviews per DMA. Results were weighted as needed to match U.S. demographics and to enable year over year trending. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Aflac Media Relations at [email protected] or 706.243.5543.
About the 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey
The 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey of the Aflac WorkForces Report was conducted online within the United States from June 24 – July 21, 2014 among 2,100 consumers ages 18 and older, of whom 1,727 (82 percent) were employed full time and 373 (17 percent) were employed part time and, at least partially responsible for medical insurance decisions. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Aflac Media Relations at [email protected] or 706.243.5543.
About Research Now
Research Now is the leading global online sampling and online data collection company. With more than 6 million panelists in 38 countries worldwide, Research Now offers a full suite of data collection services. For more information, please visit researchnow.com.
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For nearly six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the worksite. In Japan, Aflac is the number one life insurance company in terms of individual policies in force. Aflac individual and group insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For eight consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2014, FORTUNE magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 16th consecutive year. Also, in 2014, FORTUNE magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 13th time, ranking the company number one in the life and health insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com or espanol.aflac.com.
Media contact – Kip Havel, 706.243.5543 or [email protected]
 Zillow Mortgage Marketplace Survey, http://zillow.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=28775&item=85029, accessed August 6, 2014
 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey, accessed on August 7, 2014