With open enrollment just around the corner, participating businesses should consider early planning to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Last year, open enrollment season presented some unique challenges as many U.S. employees were forced to work remotely.
The 2022 open enrollment period will likely have similar challenges as many companies continue to maintain a combination of onsite and remote workers. Employee healthcare needs have also changed significantly since the start of the pandemic and workers may be seeking enhanced benefit offerings to better protect their health and wellbeing.
When Does Open Enrollment Start For 2022?
The start date for open enrollment 2022 health coverage is November 1, 2021 nationwide. There is currently a proposed end date of January 15, 2022 set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, residents in most states will need to enroll in health coverage by December 15, 2021 if they expect their plan to take effect by January 1, 2022. If enrollment is completed after December 15, health coverage may not be effective until February 1, 2022.
These dates can change slightly based on the state in which the business is located. Certain states have state-run health insurance exchanges where the deadlines differ, including New York, New Jersey, DC, California, Vermont, Minnesota, and Connecticut. In all other states, there are special COVID-related enrollment periods that end on August 15 or earlier.
In some cases, access to year-round health coverage enrollment is available, including for people who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, those eligible for Basic Health Programs in Minnesota and New York, those participating in the Covered Connecticut program and new or newly eligible individuals in the ConnectorCare program in Massachusetts. Natives Americans may also have access to year-round enrollment.
What Information Is Needed To Enroll?
Each enrollee must provide certain information to successfully enroll in health coverage during the open enrollment period. This includes the name, address, social security number, email address, citizenship status and birthdate of the individual. In some instances, a person may be asked for proof of lawful residency status. Enrollees must also provide information regarding their household size and income.
Enrollees may also be asked for doctors’ names and zip codes to ensure that they are in-network with the health plan, as well as the names of medications taken by any person who is covered under the plan. Insurance plans have their own covered medication list and certain drugs may not be included. Individuals who are age 30 or older and have a hardship exemption may have the option to enroll in a catastrophic plan.
What Is A Hybrid Open Enrollment?
The pandemic continues to disrupt normal business processes and workforces. To account for these unusual changes, modern companies must consider new priorities when developing employee communication strategies, health and benefit programs and health coverage enrollment procedures. For the 2022 open enrollment period, many businesses will need to approach this event with a hybrid perspective. There are several ways that businesses can prepare for a hybrid open enrollment:
1. Start Planning Early
If employee benefits are set to renew on January 1, businesses should begin open enrollment by the middle of Q4. Open enrollment is usually considered successful if employees receive their identification cards prior to the effective date. Meeting this goal requires business leaders to prepare earlier in the year. Create a communication strategy for employees and become familiar with all new policy changes this season.
2. Reach Out To A Broker
Employee benefits can be considerably complex and making ill-informed decisions can lead to wasted time and money. Consider speaking with an experienced benefits broker before open enrollment begins to design a comprehensive benefits package that meets the needs of employees and the overall business. Experienced brokers are well versed on open enrollment and health coverage, and can provide information and guidance regarding what is best for the company based on size and similar factors.
3. Review Employee Benefits
It is important to take the time to reassess employee benefits on a regular basis. The current labor market is very competitive; businesses must go the extra mile to ensure that job candidates choose their business over their competitors. The right employee benefits can attract top talent and retain loyal employees. Before open enrollment, consider how the business can benefit from changing or adding certain benefits, such as Student Loan Assistance, Health Savings Accounts or Employee Assistance Programs.
4. Communicate With Workers
Staying connected with employees is crucial before and during open enrollment. Employees must be made aware of any new changes or deadlines to ensure that each eligible enrollee has the opportunity to get health care coverage if they desire. Employees working remotely may need additional reminders as emails can get lost and other forms of communication may not reach them in time. Develop new strategies for communicating to employees about benefits, such as virtual meetings.
5. Offer Online Open Enrollment
With more employees working from home, many businesses have found it beneficial to move open enrollment online. The use of a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) allows companies to save time, reduce errors and make the enrollment process more efficient by allowing employees to enroll in benefits online rather than go the paper-based open enrollment route. Many modern HRIS systems also offer additional benefits, such as the ability to record and publish an open enrollment presentation that employees can watch to increase engagement.
Ask About Our Benefits Consulting Services
Open enrollment is one of the busiest times of year for organizations and many businesses struggle to navigate the complex area of employee benefits. Communicating with an experienced employee benefits consultant can help the process to be more efficient and effective.
A benefits consultant can explain plan details and make plan recommendations based on the client’s particular situation. A benefits consultant can also continue to assist clients after the plan is purchased. For more information about open enrollment 2022 or to inquire about benefits consulting services for your business, contactthe employee benefits experts at Business Benefits Group today.