Benefits

It’s That Time Again: Are You Ready For Open Enrollment?

open_enrollment

The temperature isn’t the only thing rising this summer – our group health insurance is going up over 14 percent.

So, as part of my role on our benefits committee, I reviewed several different health carriers to see if there were any more affordable options. Luckily for us, there was one. However, this will now involve having all the employees fill out enrollment applications within the next few weeks to make the September 1 deadline to replace our existing plan.

While we are going through the hassle of changing health plans, we also decided to switch to an HSA custodian that offers more competitive investment options. With these changes coming up pretty quickly, it made me wonder if there was a secret to a successful open enrollment – instead of the yearly rush to communicate any changes to our small group of employees.

Open enrollment checklist

As luck would have it, this month’s edition of Employee Benefit Adviser offers 5 tips to Plan Ahead with An Open Enrollment Checklist. The checklist is based on key findings from last year’s Mercer Workplace Survey, which is a study of employees who participate in an employer sponsored health plan.

  • Use Open Enrollment to reinforce the value of your health and benefits program. According to the survey, 79 percent of employees said their benefits are one of the primary reasons they work where they do, so make sure your workforce understands the value of their benefits package. A total rewards personalized statement can raise awareness of the value, or hold a benefits planning workshop prior to open enrollment so your workforce can make an educated decision on what’s best for their own financial situation.
  • Understand the implications and scenarios of health care reformSome 36 percent of employees surveyed expected their employer to change health plan benefits due to health care reform, so be proactive in communicating any new benefits or changes due to the federal health care reform law.
  • Leverage online/electronic communications. If employees are receptive to receiving information online, consider the cost savings of e-delivery of open enrollment materials. My company plans to utilize an online webcast to communicate our upcoming changes.
  • Consider adding a wellness program. These programs provide effective forums to drive employee appreciation of and adoption of healthy behaviors, improving both employee engagement and the bottom line. Don’t forget to also add a financial wellness component too!
  • Move ahead of the crowd. Having open enrollment in the summer, as my company does, can seem a bit early. But by holding open enrollment earlier in the year, as opposed to the traditional November time frame, it will allow you ample time for critical post-enrollment deliverables such as ID cards and targeted communication and education, particularly as related to health care reform.

This was originally published on the Financial Finesse blog  for Workplace Financial Planning and Education.

Linda Robertson is an experienced financial planner with FinancialFinesse.com, the nation’s leading provider of unbiased financial education programs to corporations, credit unions and municipalities with over 400 clients across the country. Her focus is on retirement and tax planning, and her background includes positions with NationsBank, H & R Block, and Metropolitan Life. Contact her at linda.robertson@financialfinesse.com .