The substantial amount of labor and hours involved in open enrollment season is known all too well to benefit administrators. But, are you making it harder than it should be? Administrators can make the open enrollment process go much more smoothly, and with a lot less intensive labor, by simply assessing the effectiveness of past enrollment processes before the new season begins. Let’s look at four practices to help you assess your process and determine what adjustments can be made to make the process more efficient.
1. Taking Advantage of the Pre-planning Phase. Begin by clarifying your business’s objectives. You can then evaluate benefit plan designs. Whether it’s health savings accounts, consumer-directed plans, reimbursement accounts, or so forth, the important point is to determine what options best fit your business’s goals and employee pool. Other considerations during the pre-planning period should include your budget for benefit administration costs, what and how technology will be utilized to make the enrollment process as efficient as possible, and whether the administration of benefits will be outsourced or done within your business.
2. Developing and Fine-tuning a Project Plan. Your project plan should be defined clearly and stipulate the following elements:
- The dates for the enrollment period.
- What resources are at your disposal and how they are to be allocated?
- A checklist of all tasks.
- How much lead-time will be needed for the addition of new employees and, if applicable, changing vendors or carriers.
- The training schedule for customer service reps and benefit staff members.
Additionally, it’s always prudent to have a contingency plan in place and to oversee the development of the project plan at each stage.
3. Educating Employees on Maximizing Benefits. A 2010 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study showed that employees remain extremely interested in communications with their employers regarding financial advice, retirement planning, and other benefit options. In fact, the overwhelming percentage of employees feel that communication has become a very important piece of the enrollment process.
Employers should provide their employees with the education they need to make wise health care decisions and the tools necessary for them to navigate the health care system successfully. There are a number of ways you can accomplish these goals, such as benefit calculators, health and wellness fairs, in-service meetings, direct mail benefit information, and online benefit tools.
It’s also important for employers to communicate the overall value of offered benefits to employees. Your employees should be informed about trends in the insurance industry, whenever you add more value to their health care plan, and how much you are contributing for the offered benefits.
4. Foresee the Tasks to Follow Open Enrollment. Employers should foresee and properly plan for the tasks that will need to be accomplished during the post-enrollment period. If not properly planned for, these tasks can create just as many problems as those that need to be done before and during the open enrollment period. Make sure to address the following points:
- ID card distribution
- Payroll (payroll feed schedule, timing of the last payroll period, and payroll deduction automation)
- Quarterly audit schedule with the carrier
- Follow-ups on carrier inaccuracies
- starting a plan for the next year