Did Your Open Enrollment Results Match Your Health Care Strategy?

Illustration by Dreamstime
Illustration by Dreamstime

Now that open enrollment is over, it’s time to look at its results.

Your results will be key in helping you shape your strategy for the coming year. Take a look, in particular, at how your enrollment results line up with your overall health care reform strategy.

Here are four ways you can analyze results in the context of health care reform:

1. First of all, did people pay attention?

This is a fundamental question we all should look at.

Did people visit your website? Did they use the decision tools? Are they using your online resources? Are they responding to the communication channels you are using?

2. Are employees participating in your wellness programs?

Chances are wellness is already part of your strategy. In 2014, employers will be allowed to reimburse employees who participate in wellness programs with up to 30 percent of the total cost of their health care premiums. Today, employers are allowed to reimburse 20 percent.

If you already have wellness programs in place, how is participation? Are you communicating your wellness programs enough? How are the incentives linked to plan premiums? Do your employees see the connection?

The answers to these can help you understand where you are today and what your future strategy looks like.

3. Did employees move to a high-deductible plan?

To control costs, most employers are implementing high-deductible plans. By 2013, 70 percent of large employers will offer a high-deductible plan, according to a Towers Watson study.

How many employees chose a high-deductible plan during your enrollment? How does that number compare with your goals? What are their demographics? What are your long-term goals?

Remember, just getting them in a high-deductible plan isn’t enough. Make sure you’ve clearly explained how this change is part of your overall health care strategy.

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Help employees and their families see the big picture for themselves. Teach them how health decisions are connected to retirement decisions and the benefits of saving for future health expenses through tax-advantaged health savings accounts.

4. Did your employees sign up for the FSA or HSA?

As part of health care reform, the new pre-tax contribution limit for the health care flexible spending account (FSA) will be reduced to $2,500 for 2013 (down from $5,000). Depending on what you offer, employees may also have access to a health savings account (HSA).

Managing expenses in either plan helps people make smarter health care decisions. So, did people sign up for these plans? Are they contributing money? How does this meet your long-term financial goals? What do you need to remind people of next year?

If you feel you missed an opportunity, or have more to communicate to employees, this will be the groundwork for your communication starting early next year.

Communicating year-round is key to your benefits strategy and looking ahead toward the complexity of health care reform. Let your enrollment results guide you.

This was originally published on the Benz Communications blog.

Jennifer Benz is Chief Strategist and Founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based consultancy that focuses on custom, comprehensive benefits and HR communications services. Jen is an active member of the Council for Communication Management, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Northern California Human Resources Association and Women in Consulting. Contact her at jen@benzcommunications.com.

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