I was sitting in a conference in November of last year listening to the 319th presentation on healthcare consumerism and the discussion predictably turned to consumer education. Most of the room was bemoaning the fact that individuals in this country don’t understand their benefits and as such, we need to do a better job of educating them.
Then it hit me – like a tons of bricks.
WHY ARE WE TRYING TO TEACH PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR BENEFITS?
Let’s look at other industries, shall we? Does the airline industry require us to understand the Bernoulli Principal? Do you need to understand fluid mechanics to drink from a water fountain? Does anyone still drink from a water fountain?
If I want to travel from Chicago to Tampa (which I am doing tomorrow evening) I do not need to understand how flight control systems work or how the Bernoulli Principal allows planes to fly – I simply need to go to a website (American Airlines) and tell them where I want to go and when and they figure out the rest. They tell me what kind of plane I need and how high we should fly, etc.
Why can’t a benefits website do the same thing?
A fun fact before I hit publish on this post. Two years ago Alegeus Technologies published a research paper that showed that after more than 30 years, individuals still cannot answer the most basic questions about their Flexible Spending Accounts. If we can’t educate a group of people about something as simple as their own FSA what makes us think we can educate them about a panoply of benefits products?