Three Ways to Make 2017 Open Enrollment Your Smoothest Yet

November 08, 2016

Benefit administration can have obstacles, the actual enrollment process doesn’t have to be one. Here are 3 tips to help this year’s open enrollment period.

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With autumn comes open enrollment, which signifies a new start for your clients. While plenty of obstacles surround benefit administration — including lack of employee engagement and rising costs — the actual enrollment process doesn’t have to be one of them. Here are three tips to help this year’s open enrollment periods be the best yet.

1. Help them communicate better with employees

Getting the word out about new and different options — and the need to enroll — is a crucial part of the process. Start by evaluating who your clients need to reach and how often you’ll want to reach them. Often, these groups include diverse employees, managers and even family members.

“Keep in mind that not every audience member has the same education level or understanding of even the most basic benefits concepts,” writes Kim Buckey for BenefitsPro. “People need to hear messages multiple times before they register. Make sure you’re communicating regularly — and thoughtfully — in the weeks leading up to, and during, the enrollment period.”

2. Use new tools to help employees choose the best plans

Plan options can be difficult to understand, and employees might wrongly assume the most expensive plan is the best. Find customized ways to help clients’ employees understand their own benefit use and needs.

“Amazing analytical tools are now available that process last year’s claims for each individual employee and recalculates them to the new year’s plan designs and offerings,” writes Prashant Srivastava for Employee Benefit Adviser. These tools show “the bottom-line dollar amount of predicted out-of-pocket savings for choosing one plan over another.”

Empowering employees to make the best decision — and helping them understand sometimes complicated, yet beneficial options, like HSAs — benefits everyone in the long run.

“Experience has shown that many employees switch to a right-size plan, and then recognize significant savings and satisfaction,” Srivastava writes.

3. Allow different options to make open enrollment convenient for everyone

Online open enrollment is gaining popularity. “It’s convenient and can be done anywhere, anytime,” according to insurance brokerage firm Higginbotham. “It also creates a permanent, sortable record that can easily be accessed in a post-ACA world that requires employers to provide proof of insurance offerings. Many online enrollment systems can generate multiple reports to assist HR departments with their reporting needs, if not manage the entire ACA reporting process from start to finish.”

But moving online could mean leaving some employees behind. Don’t forget them. “Some of these employees may not have consistent computer access or are less technologically savvy than their coworkers,” according to Higginbotham. “Make sure that there is assistance available.”

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