Objective: To demonstrate that employees can gain understanding of the financial constraints involved in designing health insurance benefits.
Background: While employees who receive their health insurance through the workplace have much at stake as the cost of health insurance rises, they are not necessarily prepared to constructively participate in prioritizing their health insurance benefits in order to limit cost.
Design: Structured group exercises.
Setting and participants: Employees of 41 public and private organizations in Northern California.
Intervention: Administration of the CHAT (Choosing Healthplans All Together) exercise in which participants engage in deliberation to design health insurance benefits under financial constraints.
Main outcome measures: Change in priorities and attitudes about the need to exercise insurance cost constraints.
Results: Participants (N = 744) became significantly more cognizant of the need to limit insurance benefits for the sake of affordability and capable of prioritizing benefit options. Those agreeing that it is reasonable to limit health insurance coverage given the cost increased from 47% to 72%.
Conclusion: It is both possible and valuable to involve employees in priority setting regarding health insurance benefits through the use of structured decision tools.