It’s that time of year again! Open enrollment is the yearly period when employees can enroll in a health insurance plan and voluntary benefit funding plans like Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA). For employers, it is a time of year that serves as an opportunity to help their employees navigate through decisions that will significantly impact them and their families. It’s important that this period goes smoothly so that employees make the right choices for their unique situation. To that end, here are some tried-and-true tips to make the most of this crucial time.
Start Education Early
The annual benefits election process should start well before any forms are filled out. The earlier you can get information and materials out to your employees, the better. This allows time for employees to review their options and formulate any questions before enrollment begins. Plan to answer some of the most common open enrollment questions for each program, such as:
- Why do I need this benefit?
- Which features fit my needs?
- What value does the program provide?
- How much is this going to cost me per paycheck?
If you offer an FSA through MidAmerica, we have several open enrollment and benefit education resources you can leverage. Simply reach out to your Account Manager!
Remember the Basics
Many employees don’t fully understand health insurance or benefit funding plan basics. With health insurance options changing, employees may need education on definitions and examples of co-payments, deductibles, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. Avoid using confusing jargon in your marketing collateral so that solutions are easy to understand.
Communicate Your Plan and Level of Coverage
Prepare to share information about your company’s benefits coverage and health benefit funding plans, including the different plans that you offer and their respective coverage, and any changes you are making or considering. Be sure to clearly communicate cost information so employees understand what they will need to pay and how their benefit is changing. Prepare handouts outlining the major changes to the benefits, including new IRS guidelines and plan maximums, and hold informational meetings. Anticipate questions and have FAQs ready for distribution.
Avoid Information Overload
Some employers make the mistake of handing out pages and pages of text, jamming a year’s worth of communication into a few weeks. Instead, communicate the technical details of your various benefits over time. Don’t assume employees will weed through all your materials to make sense of the benefits offered to them.
Give Employees a Generous Time Frame
While many people may wait until the last minute to fill out their forms, others consider their options with their family members for weeks. Giving them just a few days will not be enough. Be sure to build in a time frame that gives HR staff and employees the time they need. A recommended time frame is three weeks.
Although open enrollment can seem like a stressful time, it doesn’t have to be that way. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your organization has a successful open enrollment.