Open enrollment is a period of time when employers allow new and current employees to enroll in or make changes to their health plan. During this time, employees may decide to change plans, add or drop a dependent or add an optional benefit, such as a dental plan. Employers can help employees during open enrollment by explaining new health insurance options and changes to existing benefits.
Open Enrollment Education Strategies
To help employees select the plan option that is best for them, employers should provide information about the following:
A general summary of what benefits are covered by the plan
Limits on coverage, as well as limits on coverage for certain conditions
Coverage for preventive services, procedures and medications
Prescription drug coverage details
Cost-sharing such as premium contribution, deductibles, or copayment requirements.
Consumer directed and high deductible health plans plan types
During this time, having proper communication with your team is vital. Without proper communication, employees may feel confused and stressed about the different health insurance plans available. The following are ways for any business owner to improve their open enrollment communication strategies:
Communicate frequently with employees regarding their health coverage options, but avoid overwhelming employees with information.
Be honest and direct when discussing health benefits, especially if employees are facing cost increases for their coverage.
Discuss the “Five Cs” of enrollment with employees: Cost, coverage information, changes to plans, comparisons to last year’s plans and current options.
Provide information to employees about the health care providers or networks that will be available to them in new or revised plan options.
Use a variety of communication methods, such as the Internet, printed materials and discussions.
Tips For Hybrid Workforces
Due to the pandemic, and employees’ desire for flexibility, many employers now find themselves with a workforce on a full time hybrid schedule. With more employees working remotely, employers have had to adapt and rethink all aspects of the employee experience, including open enrollment.
During 2020, virtual open enrollment initiatives played a significant role for many organizations, and they are likely here to stay. So it is important as an employer to consider how virtual channels can supplement a benefits strategy for remote, hybrid and even on-site employees. Here are a few tips for leveraging virtual channels and opportunities:
Host a kick-off webinar or virtual presentation. This will help employees start thinking about benefits and provide them with the key information they’ll need.
Create a benefits website. A one-stop location will allow employees to hop online, engage with resources and learn more.
Provide employees with the technical support they need. Examine how an open enrollment experience can be accessible for all employees, regardless of their location.
Prepare easily accessible materials for employees to review.
Host a virtual open enrollment fair. An open enrollment fair allows employees to learn about available benefits and discuss offerings with providers. These events are great ways for employers and benefits providers to help employees understand and enroll in the benefits programs that meet their needs.
These initiatives are considered supplements to existing open enrollment strategies targeted at on-site employees. For example, you can offer both a virtual and an on-site fair as it engages employees at a location.
Be sure to offer flexibility for enrolling. In a hybrid model, employees have varying employment circumstances and different needs for enrolling in benefits. Some employees may be readily prepared to make their benefits choices, while others may need more assistance. Similarly, some employees may desire a more traditional in-person enrollment experience, whereas others are eager to enroll virtually.
Here are a few ways to provide flexibility to employees:
Offer one-on-one meetings. Employers should be prepared for those who prefer to meet with someone face to face to discuss benefits. You can also offer virtual meeting times to be mindful of employees working at home.
Provide on-site enrollment options. Don’t neglect the in-person experience when meeting the needs of a distributed workforce. For hybrid employees you should still allow an on-site option to enroll and focus on the quality of the experience.
Provide virtual enrollment options.
A communication strategy that also focuses on hybrid workers can help employees understand their options and encourage participation. Many tried-and-true tactics may need to be digitized for organizations with distributed workforces.
It’s important for employers to communicate open enrollment initiatives early, often and effectively. By starting this process early, employees will have more time to engage with open enrollment resources,so they can make informed decisions regardless of location.
With employees dispersed in different locations, it’s essential to use communication channels that reach all employees. Some traditional media like posters and internal meetings may continue to play a role in communicating to those on-site. In addition to these, channels including intranets, email, and chat platforms may help educate all employees.
Every workplace is unique in how its workforce interacts with open enrollment and benefits. This year, hybrid workforces should be factored into an open enrollment strategy.
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