According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 51% of employees are satisfied with their employer-sponsored health benefits. Therefore, making the open enrollment process as easy for employees as possible is crucial. However, many HR professionals dread company open enrollment, often citing it as chaotic and unorganized. If HR isn’t looking forward to the open enrollment season, how will they motivate their workforce to enroll in benefits in the first place?
We asked ourselves this same question as we saw HR professionals struggling with open enrollment nationwide. So, we decided to end HR’s open enrollment struggles once and for all. We pulled together our best open enrollment tips for employers to make this process easier.
What is Open Enrollment?
How Does Open Enrollment Work?
Once employers receive insurance rates from their brokers, they plan a health insurance enrollment period. Next, employers initiate the open enrollment process and work with their employees to enroll in a health insurance plan for the year. Insurance open enrollment can also include vision, dental, and disability plans. This process usually lasts between two and four weeks.
Once employees make their selections and the health insurance open enrollment period closes, employers must communicate those changes to the benefit providers. Then, employers send physical paperwork or electronically transmit benefits information to the brokers.
Why is There an Open Enrollment Period?
Have you ever tried to sign up for health insurance to be told you have to wait for open enrollment? Open enrollment exists because health insurance companies have to invest more in premiums each year than they pay out in claims.
For that to happen, providers must have more healthy members than sick members. An enrollment period ensures that healthy and ill individuals sign up for health plans simultaneously. This process minimizes the risk of sick-only signees.
What is Open Enrollment in 2023?
The 2023 health insurance enrollment window begins on Monday, November 1, and most states have slated it to end on Wednesday, December 15, 2023. Usually, if you don’t enroll by December 15, you can’t get coverage unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. However, some states may have later enrollment deadlines available. Once enrolled, coverage starts on January 1, 2023.
What Happens if Employees Miss Open Enrollment?
If employees miss the employer open enrollment period, they will likely have to wait until next year to sign up or make changes. However, if they cannot wait, employees can enroll in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace if they are eligible for Medicare or CHIP benefits.
If an employee experiences a qualifying life event, they can change their health insurance outside of open enrollment. However, employees must make their selections during the open enrollment period to ensure they have the appropriate coverage during the year.
How Do I Make Open Enrollment Easier?
Open enrollment is usually a stressful season for both employers and employees. To make this process easier, consider educating employees by reviewing your benefit offerings before open enrollment starts. You can conduct an employee survey of existing benefits to see where employees need help the most.
You can also leverage a benefits specialist on your employees’ behalf. Specialists who understand various benefits can reassure employees of different offerings to make more informed decisions. Benefits specialists create a win-win scenario since the more employees you enroll, the greater the tax break for your organization.
Need Help Streamlining Open Enrollment?
Essential Employer Open Enrollment Tips
1. Ditch the Paper Process
Tip: Check the Department of Labor’s safe harbor guidelines for electronic retirement plan communications rules. Depending on employee preferences, you might be required to mail a paper copy of the open enrollment guide to select employees’ homes.
2. Be Concise
Provide Clear Details
Keep It Simple
Use Available Resources
3. Implement an Open Enrollment Communication Strategy
Did you know that 35% of employees have little to no understanding of their healthcare coverage? Furthermore, 62% feel their employer doesn’t serve as a resource for their healthcare-related questions.
How Do You Engage Employees During Open Enrollment?
So, how can an employer be more active in employee benefits enrollment? First, use a targeted strategy for open enrollment communication with your employees.
We’ve put together a list of tips you can use to engage employees during open enrollment actively. Consider layering these ideas into your communication plan:
4. Utilize an HR Provider
Online open enrollment provides a more straightforward process for employees to elect and update their benefits selections. Staff can log into an employee self-service site and follow guided prompts that walk them through their plan options and costs. Some HR solutions even offer instructional information during each step to help employees make their choices.
HR software also assists in managing open enrollment requirements for employers. This automation reduces manual processes for managers, so you focus more on your workforce and less on paperwork.
Fortunately, payroll and HR providers can help. Certain providers offer COBRA administration to help you mitigate compliance risks, track qualifying events, and meet coverage requirements. Some even have teams of experts on their staff.
With an HR provider, you can automate paperwork and streamline compliance in a single system, saving you time and energy. You can even combine COBRA administration with carrier connection tools and online open enrollment to streamline your entire benefits process.
Instant Employee Access
Whether checking their pending elections or accessing current benefits information, self-service tools give employees instant access to their benefits information. Regardless of where they work, employees can log in, view open enrollment messages, and make updates to personal information. In addition, employees can view different plans and enroll in the ones available. They can also look into coverage types and manage their dependents.
A streamlined benefits process supports employee initiatives while saving your workforce time. Many HR providers even have desktop and mobile app versions of their self-service platform. This accessibility on the go makes it easy for employees to view their benefits. Mobility is convenient when employees are at a doctor’s appointment or visiting the dentist.
How Do You Manage Open Enrollment?
Start Preparing for Open Enrollment Today
Now is the time to start planning for open enrollment. Following these open enrollment tips for employers we have provided can improve your employees’ overall open enrollment experience. With a streamlined communication strategy and paperless process, you’ll quickly and efficiently get information into employees’ hands. Meanwhile, an HR provider can help you gain peace of mind through employee benefit access, accurate data, reduced compliance risks, and carrier connections.
Disclaimer: This article intends to provide open enrollment tips for employers to have a successful open enrollment process. It does not offer advice on benefits offerings or legislation. APS does not provide ASO or PEO services. Our platform assists with benefits administration, open enrollment, carrier integrations, and COBRA administration. If you need assistance with evaluating benefit offerings and compliance with legislation, please contact your broker or HR consultant.
How APS Can Help
Take your open enrollment a step further with APS. We offer online benefits administration, simplified plan tracking, and COBRA administration in a unified platform. Manage all your benefit plans, including medical, dental, life, disability, and more.
APS’ Carrier Connections allows you to transmit your benefits paperwork directly to providers electronically. This direct transmission avoids dropped benefits and streames the entire approval process.
You’ll have access to an in-house team of experts dedicated to mitigating compliance risks and keeping you informed. Employees can even view the costs of different plans and coverage types, enroll in benefit plans, and manage their documents from their preferred electronic device.
Learn more about how APS can help you make this open enrollment your best one yet!