Your Guide to a Smooth Open Enrollment

person handing out documents

Open enrollment is a time each year when you can enroll in health insurance or make changes to your current plan.

In most cases, employers provide plans for their employees. Open enrollment also becomes an opportunity to disenroll if the employee no longer wants the coverage.

If you don't enroll in health insurance during the open enrollment, you most likely won't be able to until the following open enrollment period unless you have a qualifying event.

For companies, noncompliance with employee benefits may result in paying substantial fines and penalties. 

Because it's such an important undertaking, the open enrollment season can be pretty stressful for your HR team—but not, of course, if you prepare extensively. 

In this post, we'll show you how to prepare for a smooth open enrollment.

Why is open enrollment important?

The purpose of the annual open enrollment period is to deter adverse selection, which occurs when sick people enroll in health insurance, and healthy people do not. 

When a health plan insures a consumer, it significantly skews the financial risk the plan accepts. When someone needs expensive, unanticipated medical care or already has a chronic disease, it also helps them avoid the risk of not having health insurance. 

Employees value open enrollment because it provides them the freedom to select their benefit plans and to decide whether to upgrade or downgrade specific coverages. 

A family's household budget may significantly impact their capacity to make such changes. 

For instance, if the monthly premium payment strains the budget, an employee who previously enrolled in a plan with a high premium can select another choice.

From the business perspective, it's a chance to promote the benefits the HR team has spent many weeks or even months researching, verifying, and haggling over with insurance providers and others. 

The HR team puts a lot of time and attention into ensuring benefit programs suit employees. Additionally, they put a lot of effort into ensuring that the perks they provide align with the culture and objectives of the business.

Although choosing the best alternatives for their families can be difficult for employees during open enrollment, it can also be a time for the company to educate employees on the many available benefit plans and explain how they cater to different employee needs.

Also, it's a period when the business can boost employee morale by delivering benefits.

Tips to prepare for open enrollment

The open enrollment process is not something that your HR team can and should whip at the very last minute.

It takes careful preparation, communication, and assistance to ensure everyone successfully enrolls in their benefit plans on time. 

How do you prepare for it? We've listed down some helpful tips below:

Early planning is key

Midway through the benefits year, set up a renewal schedule to keep your team and staff on track in the coming months to open enrollment. 

Having deadlines at hand can make it easier to determine appropriate timescales by working backward. 

Some companies must begin planning in a year, while others will be fine in 2-3 months. Still, starting as early as possible is the best course of action.

Stay updated on benefits and law changes

Keeping an eye out on the constantly changing healthcare sector is essential, particularly regarding obligations regarding communications and benefits—a friendly reminder: just one of these oversights could cost your company dearly in fines.

Communicate extensively with your employees

Make sure to utilize precise and unambiguous language when developing open enrollment collateral and communication materials to establish enrollment deadline expectations. 

Your open enrollment communications plan should satisfy the requirements of your workforce. 

You will never go wrong with setting up several opportunities for your employees to attend meetings. Making virtual or recorded sessions available can also help ensure you got the bases covered with your staff. 

Highlight, don't overload

Considering that this is in addition to their regular projects and learning, you can see how much information your staff can process simultaneously. 

Start by emphasizing the updates or new perks you've added since the previous year. Then, explain what was in place previously, what the employees stand to gain or lose from the change, and what steps need to be taken moving forward. 

Set up your staff for success by thoughtfully handling benefits messaging.

Establish a timely deadline

Early and frequently communicate the enrollment deadline. Provide as much warning as you can and deliver reminders, often using a variety of communication channels. 

Make the enrollment deadline clear whenever you have information about your benefits program. Then, commit to keeping an eye on registration so you can jump in and help before it's too late.

Make employer cost information available

Employees today expect to have access to information about their healthcare, including the methods and justifications used by your business when making healthcare choices. 

Plan a time at the beginning of your open enrollment meeting or recording so that the relevant leaders and stakeholders can explain the context of why the healthcare choices were made. 

With HR platforms like Hezum, you can also upload materials to a secured and shared database so your employees can read up on their own time.

Your employees are better equipped to make wiser decisions when they thoroughly understand the benefits being provided. Also, they are more likely to comprehend how their healthcare decisions affect society.

Prepare for post-open enrollment

In employee communications, be careful to include instructions on what to do after open enrollment. 

Provide information on what to anticipate after enrollment and what employees can receive from carriers and vendors. Establish clear expectations to save time.

Follow up with suppliers

Conduct an audit shortly after open enrollment ends, and data has been successfully sent to ensure no discrepancies between what you provided and what the carriers processed. 

During this period, you can see if the ID cards and other things your employees need to use for their benefits have been delivered.

To summarize

Your employees' experience with open enrollment will depend on whether you have a plan in place or not. Ensure a pleasant experience for your company by providing the time required to complete each step.

How do you save time for your HR staff? Utilizing a complete HR solution like Hezum may help them out. 

Automating and streamlining processes like onboarding and time-off requests gives your staff more time to get their head on the open enrollment process. 

Want to learn more about our solutions? Visit the website or schedule a demo today.

Tricia Tan

Tricia Tan