In the U.S., open enrollment refers to a period of time when employees of organizations and companies may make changes to their benefit options, such as health insurance. While this usually occurs once per year, it can sometimes occur more than once. Open enrollment begins on November 1st and runs until December 15th.
Last year, the Trump Administration shortened the open enrollment period from the usual 90 days to just 45 days. This will carry over this year. There are some other changes you can expect to see for open enrollment 2020, including more flexibility for states in building essential health benefits for benchmark plans. In addition, Americans who did not have health coverage in 2019 will not be subject to a tax penalty.
Encourage Employees to Gather All Essential Information
Well before any forms are filled out, you will want to help your employees learn about the open enrollment period to come. Provide essential materials ahead of time so that your staff has plenty of time to review their options and ask questions if needed. There are numerous ways that you can deliver these materials to ensure that all employees have the chance to properly review them.
With advances in technology, it is now easy to deliver important information to employees using an online portal that is maintained by either the employer or insurance carrier. You may also want to provide ways to simplify the process for employees, such as auto-fill fields if applying online.
Create Reminders to Enroll the First Two Weeks of the Period
Sending out reminders to enroll is crucial during the open enrollment period, especially during the first two weeks of the period. With so much going on, it is easy for employees to forget about applying for new benefits or making modifications to their existing benefits.
A quick reminder via email or even a paper handout can make a big difference for many employees. Ideally, you want to send out several reminders over the course of the open enrollment period. Space the reminders out a few days apart and always express the importance of applying for or maintaining benefits.
Explain the Difference Between High- and Low-Deductible Plans
It is important to take the time to explain to your employees who may not be as familiar with health insurance plans the difference between high- and low-deductible plans. Of course, deductible amounts are the primary difference between the two, but it is not the only one to consider.
Premium costs can vary, but health plans that have high deductibles tend to have lower monthly payments compared to health plans with lower deductibles. The type of plan that an employee chooses may also affect their ability to use a health savings account (HSA).
Create “Marketing” Collateral to Help Guide and Teach Staff
When speaking to your employees about open enrollment, it is wise to think like a marketer in some aspects. When sending out emails or other forms of information, it is important to remember you need to grab the attention of your reader within the first 30 seconds or you risk losing them.
When creating marketing materials to guide or teach your staff about open enrollment, be sure to provide concise content that is fairly short and to the point. Always use plain English and highlight the important dates and other key data. If possible, add bold graphics that will catch the reader’s eyes and encourage them to read the content.
Understand the Unique Needs of Your Patients
By learning about the unique needs of your employees, you can better target any marketing materials to them. You can find out more about what your employees want in health insurance and other benefits by reviewing the results of previous years’ open enrollment.
Once you have this information, you can tailor your open enrollment materials to what your employees want to know about. For example, if you find that your employees want to know about low-deductible health insurance, make sure to include this in bold when sending out marketing materials.
Discuss Special Perks Not Commonly Discussed
Your workforce can easily become overwhelmed with information if you are constantly sending them new marketing materials. It is important to pace your communications and add special perks in some materials to keep your employees interested in what you have to say.
To get workers’ attention, some companies will provide information about benefits like fertility-related coverage or family leave. You may also want to help employees make a decision by providing testimonials from other people who have chosen that particular plan. This will encourage employees to think about their options and what is best for them.
Get the Entire Family Involved
For many employees, obtaining health insurance and other benefits does not just affect them but their entire family. That is why it is useful to discuss how benefits can help the entire family in various ways, such as by offering health insurance to spouses and children.
You can get the family involved even more by hosting an event to discuss the open enrollment period. A weekend webinar or even a brief meeting in your office can do a lot of good when employees are dragging their feet about signing up for benefits.
Get Assistance Preparing for Open Enrollment 2020
With open enrollment drawing near, many companies are making the initiative to talk to their employees about important benefits like health, dental, vision, and life insurance. It is not always easy for HR professionals to communicate with employees about their benefit choices. Now, with a shorter deadline, this discussion has to happen much sooner than expected. Today, most employers have an open enrollment period of just two to four weeks on average. Acquiring assistance from industry professionals can help make the process go much more smoothly. For more information on how to prepare your business for open enrollment 2020, contact the business brokers at BBG.