Bad health plans don't endear staff

DETROIT: Unresponsive health insurance plans could be damaging employee relations at major corporations, contends Wirthlin Worldwide, a McLean, VA-based consulting firm.

DETROIT: Unresponsive health insurance plans could be damaging employee relations at major corporations, contends Wirthlin Worldwide, a McLean, VA-based consulting firm.

While doing research for a major manufacturer last year, Wirthlin found employees upset with their health plans blamed their employers - not the plans - for the problems.

The company picked a health plan based on coverage, but employees wanted a well-run plan that paid claims promptly. When that didn't happen, employees blamed the company.

Furthermore, they stopped believing the employee communications that were sent out, extolling the benefits of the health plan. "If you send out messages saying how great the plan is, then the message isn't going to resonate with employees,

said Randy Wheeler, research manager at Wirthlin.

Employees surveyed last year by Wirthlin were irate about late payment of benefits or a lack of responsiveness to questions about coverage.

Wirthlin surveyed workers in three states over a three-month period, and heard comments about 10 different health plans, pointing to dissatisfaction in many companies, Wheeler said.

He added that companies should stop publishing internal communications praising their health plans, and instead ask employees what matters to them - and then measure those factors.

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