By Donna Clifford Klein
Open Enrollment can be confusing for employees as they sort through benefits and decide which medical plan may be the best for their family. When these questions arise, employees will turn to HR and their employers for guidance on how to navigate the process. Below are a few employee questions HR professionals and employers should be prepared to answer to help facilitate a less stressful Open Enrollment.
What is Open Enrollment?
Each year, employers who offer employee health insurance hold an enrollment period for their medical plan, allowing employees to add or change benefits. This period is called Open Enrollment. Government-operated health exchanges, on a federal and state level, also offer open enrollment periods.
When is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?
Employees should know in advance when Open Enrollment begins and should have received their benefits guides and information on what’s changing so they are fully prepared to enroll when the time comes. Keep an open line of communication with your employees in the time leading up to and during Open Enrollment and be clear on deadlines they should be mindful of, especially the last day they can make changes. During this time of year, it may make sense to assign a point person or two to act as a benefits resource specifically for employee questions. This is particularly important if there are significant changes compared to previous years, such as a change in the enrollment process. The dates for the health insurance exchange operated by the United States federal government open enrollment are November 1, 2022, through January 15, 2023.
What is the best healthcare plan option for me?
Clearly outline all plan options and insurance providers available to employees in your benefits guides as well as instructions on where they can get more detailed information about these plan options. Remind employees that when picking an option, they should keep in mind how many dependents they will have on their plan, how often they use their plans and the types of medical needs they have throughout the year, how much they spend each year on provider visits, and where their providers are in-network.
Do I need to make a change to my healthcare benefits?
There are a lot of factors employees should consider when choosing their medical plan. It may be helpful to ask a few questions to encourage employees to think about their specific needs. Some questions to ask are, “How much did you spend in the past year on out-of-pocket costs?” and “Are you planning for a big surgery or a life event next year?” Each employee’s specific needs will provide insight into the type of plan that will benefit them best, whether it is a high deductible plan, Reference-Based Pricing plan, PPO plan, etc. Be prepared to explain the plan options available to your employees, including any benefits or plans that are changing and the possible impact of those changes. Point employees to the tools available, which may help them decide. Make sure employees are informed if they are required to go through the enrollment process, even if they don’t plan to make changes, some benefits may need to be selected annually.
Is Open Enrollment just about my medical insurance?
Medical coverage tends to dominate the benefits conversation, but there are many voluntary benefits employees can enroll in during this time. Make sure employees understand all the ancillary, or additional, benefits available to them, as well as any requirements for those benefits, as some may have a different enrollment process. This is also a great time to bring up company perks that don’t require employee enrollment for them to directly benefit.
What changes can I make outside of Open Enrollment?
Employees may want to know how they can enroll or change benefits after Open Enrollment ends. While most changes may need to be made during the Open Enrollment period, employees can make changes outside of this period if they experience a life event like marriage or the birth of a child. Some ancillary benefits may allow changes or additions outside of the enrollment phase, be sure employees know where they may have more flexibility and where the deadline needs to be carefully observed.
Open Enrollment can be overwhelming for employees, but it doesn’t need to be. With the right tools and support, you can offer your employee a stress-free enrollment experience where they feel heard and informed. HealthComp is here to help – if you’re looking for guidance or have questions on how to share resources with your employees, reach out to your account management team.