Should Companies Offer Bilingual Benefits Enrollments?
The landscape of the U.S. workforce is rapidly changing, and Spanish-speaking workers are increasingly becoming a major part of its future. Spanish is a primary language in 13% of U.S. homes, and this number is projected to increase to 33% by 2050.
Although companies offer benefits packages to all employees, Spanish-speaking employees are statistically less likely to take advantage of these benefits. Census Bureau data showed in 2017 that while 75.4% of non-Hispanic whites maintained insurance coverage, only 49% of their Hispanic counterparts did so.
This disparity leads some employers to evaluate the need for bilingual enrollment experiences that provide resources, information, benefits counseling, and other services in both English and Spanish.
What are the current barriers Hispanic employees face when it comes to healthcare benefits?
With such a drastic difference in how English-speaking employees embrace benefits packages compared to their Spanish-speaking counterparts, some employers have spent considerable time and money researching the factors causing this difference.
Here are some of the primary reasons why fewer Hispanics take advantage of benefits than English speakers:
Language barriers - as noted earlier, Spanish could be spoken in a third of U.S. households by 2050. This would mean that one in every three employees could face a language barrier in understanding, choosing, and using their employee benefits.
Irregular work hours - Spanish-speaking employees make up a significant portion of service and related industries that involve shift work, irregular hours, and constantly changing schedules. This can make it more difficult for these employees to find the time to meet with a benefits advisor or review their benefits options.
Information sources - 28% of Hispanics say they haven’t received any information from a healthcare professional in at least one year. Instead, these employees are more likely to look to family, mass media, friends, and community groups for healthcare information and advice. The focus on these sources instead of the medical community may distance some Hispanics from employee benefits packages.
How can a bilingual enrollment strategy help?
Offering services related to benefits enrollment in both Spanish and English could significantly increase the percentage of Spanish-speaking employees who enroll in and use their benefits packages.
A bilingual enrollment experience should include English and Spanish versions of all documents related to the enrollment process, including agreements and contracts, marketing assets, explanatory documents, and others.
Bilingual benefits advisors can also dramatically improve enrollment outcomes. These professionals can explain benefits and forms to Spanish-speaking employees, but they can communicate in a way that is respectful of these employees’ cultures and unique differences.
Your benefits dashboard should also be available in both English and Spanish. When users log into the dashboard to find resources or check on benefits, they can do so in their primary language.
If you have employees in need of bilingual enrollment services, The VB Shop can help employers and brokers design and implement an enrollment that will include, educate and enroll Spanish-speaking employees.