As an employer or human resources professional, you might think of Open Enrollment as a headache. While it has its challenges, Open Enrollment is an opportunity to educate and empower your employees. However, an effective Open Enrollment requires advanced planning and research. Now is the time to get started!
What Is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment is the period when your employees can enroll or change their employer-sponsored health and benefit plans. Typically, this is the only time of the year when employees can make these changes unless they qualify for a special enrollment period. Most businesses offer their Open Enrollment period during the Fall.
For your employees, it’s important they find a plan that fits their health goals and financial needs during Open Enrollment. However, many people spend 15 minutes or less choosing their health plan. Because choosing the wrong health plan can lead to unexpected healthcare expenses and increased frustration, it’s important to educate your team about their options and empower them to make good, educated choices.
Review Your Current Health Plans and Identify Gaps
The first step toward a successful Open Enrollment is to assess the quality and effectiveness of your current benefit plans. You should sit down with your HR team and health insurance broker to review:
- The usage rates of each health plan and benefit
- Your health insurance costs
- Your employees’ health and wellness data, if you’re using a population health management system
- Employee satisfaction data, including insight from exit interviews about your benefits and compensation packages
- New healthcare options that might improve your employees’ access to care and decrease your overall costs
You should look for patterns. Are your employees underutilizing a valuable benefit? Are they picking plans that meet their needs? Are they leaving the company in search of better benefits?
Once you understand your current health plans’ weaknesses, you can create a better benefit program that truly serves your employees’ health and wellness goals. While you might have always offered PPO coverage, there’s been a lot of innovation in the healthcare industry in recent years. Don’t be afraid to consider new options, such as a high-performance network.
Build an Open Enrollment Communication Plan
Now that you have a new-and-improved benefits package, you need to tell everyone about it! Before you start printing flyers and sending meeting invites, however, you should do another round of analysis. What lessons can you learn from last year’s Open Enrollment? Do you need more meetings or online options? Are your materials easy to read and understand? Do they reflect your business’ approach to workplace health and wellness?
As you announce next year’s health plans and benefits, you’ll want to have a comprehensive and engaging communication plan. Make sure it:
- Speaks to your diverse employee audiences
- Highlights any changes and improvements you’ve made
- Educates your staff about underutilized benefits
- Fosters health literacy by explaining key elements of each plan, including basics about deductibles, co-pays, and premiums
While raffles, promos, and giveaways can entice people to attend an Open Enrollment event, you need to provide them with more than t-shirts and gift cards. Make sure the focus is on substantive information that explains your employees’ healthcare options.
If you need help, consult with your health plan representative and/or insurance broker. They might have tools and services that can assist you with your Open Enrollment messaging.
Aflac (2014, September 4). Aflac survey finds 2 in 5 American workers spend less than 15 minutes on benefits selection. Cision PRNewswire. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aflac-survey-finds-2-in-5-american-workers-spend-less-than-15-minutes-on-benefits-selection-273949561.html