Now that it is the beginning of November, we know that many companies are starting to think about or are preparing or planning for Open Enrollment this season/quarter. The open enrollment period is the time of the year in which eligible employees may enroll in your health insurance plan. To make your open enrollment process more productive and smoother for everyone, let’s learn more about open enrollment and remember these top 5 open enrollment tips.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment is the period of time annually when eligible employees can enroll in your health plan. Some plans might remain the same from year to year, band only have modifications for any changes in the law. However, other plans could have significant new benefits. Most of the plan options are up to your employer. Health plan options often include traditional medical coverage, but can offer other health benefits including:
- Health savings accounts (HSAs);
- Flexible spending arrangements (FSAs); and
- Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
While there are certain circumstances prescribed by law, the majority of employees and their families have to enroll in your plan during the plan’s open enrollment period. Employees cannot change their mind and sign up for coverage in the middle of the plan year. So, it is important for employees and any of their eligible family members to know what their options are for the upcoming year during enrollment season. Also, your employees might want to confirm that their doctors are in-network for the plans you offer.
You can make the health plan process better by promoting employee engagement in open enrollment and providing resources online or through your company’s server. Finally, you should contact your insurance carrier for promotional materials.
Top 5 Open Enrollment Tips
Follow these top 5 open enrollment tips to help employees have a smooth and successful open enrollment period.
Tip #1: Create a Clear and Brief Open Enrollment Announcement
When creating an open enrollment announcement, make sure it clearly summarizes key information. This includes:
- Open enrollment period dates for all benefits
- Pre-tax contribution rates by specific benefit
- Post-tax contribution rates by specific benefit
- If there are any premium increases
- Modifications to current benefits
Tip #2: Create an Open Enrollment Information Communication Schedule
Develop a timeline for sharing the required communication materials to help make sure everyone has a successful open enrollment. Here is an example timeline:
- Email your open enrollment announcement 14 days before the open enrollment period
- Send email reminders 3 days before the open enrollment period begins with FAQs
- Schedule email reminders on the 1st and 2nd days of open enrollment to all employees, including requirements and deadlines
Tip #3: Figure Out Employee Eligibility
If your company is subject to the “pay or play” parts of the Affordable Care Act (which usually applies to those with 50+ full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees), be sure you use the right methods for determining whether an employee has enough hours of work to be considered full-time, and therefore eligible for health benefits. Even if your company is not subject to the “pay or play” rules, it is very important to confirm the eligibility requirements for certain benefits.
Tip #4: Circulate Required Benefits Notices or Disclosure Statements
Make sure that all required notices are sent to employees. This could include a Summary of Benefits and Coverage, Summary Plan Description, and Notice of Special Enrollment Rights.
Tip #5: Have HR Representatives Available
While technology and papers can explain a lot, you still need to make sure that there is a Human Resources representative available to help employees throughout the enrollment period. They need to be able to answer questions and be a resource. Allocating staff time for this is a wise investment, because it limits frustration and create a better employee enrollment experience.
If you have any additional questions about planning for open enrollment, please contact your current Hopkins Group consultant. Also, you can contact The Hopkins Group at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information how we can assist your business this open enrollment season.