As most organizations are now approaching the open enrollment season, we need to be cognizant of confusing and frustrating open enrollment processes. A poll “was conducted in April among 2,105 employees currently receiving health care through their employer. Among those whose company offers health insurance: Half of employees (49 percent) say making health insurance decisions is always “very stressful” for them. 41 percent feel the open enrollment process at their company is “extremely confusing. 20 percent often regret the benefits choices they make.”
As leaders we need to educate our employees on making the right choice for themselves and their family. Healthcare enrollment can be a confusing process for any employee, education and communication are crucial to ensure a successful open enrollment season. None of our organizations want to be a statistic as mentioned above.
Below are 7 open enrollment tips to assist your organization in a successful open enrollment season:
- Develop a roadmap from start to finish for the open enrollment outcomes. This should include what you want covered by the plans and how you want to get there. Do you want 100% participation in open enrollment? Are you analyzing the data every day?
- Keep it simple. Do not assume that every person that works for you has a thorough understanding of how open enrollment works or what to choose during the open enrollment process. Use examples that everyone can understand. Benefit enrollment is complex enough; do not make it more complex.
- Develop a training for the open enrollment process. Everyone learns differently, so try to develop a training system that encompasses all aspects of different learning styles. Presenting/lecturing on benefits for 2-hours would be a challenge for me (or anyone else!) to sit through.
- Design checklists and handouts. Develop checklists or cheat sheets for employees to use during the process. Handout the packet of information during the training. Material should be basic and easily readable for a variety of literacy levels.
- Offer family sessions. Offer enrollment sessions that include a spouse or significant other. This can relieve some anxiety and allow for better decision making by employees for their family’s needs.
- Determine Frequently Asked Questions. Design a frequently asked questions handout or implement into the training. I have found this to work well in the past.
- Open enrollment office hours and follow-up meetings. Establish 30-minutes to 1-hour every other day or daily dedicated to open enrollment and open enrollment questions. If employees need to enroll online, assist them with this process during these time slots. Follow-up throughout the process to ensure you reach the pre-established goal for the organization.
Open enrollment timing and processes vary by organization. At times, this process can be confusing and frustrating to your employees. Proactive planning and simplification wherever possible will help to ensure a successful open enrollment season. If you have a third party or consultant scheduled to work through the open enrollment process, walk through the training with them. Human Resources needs to understand what information is being communicated and how it will be communicated. Ask employees before the process begins if they have any questions or concerns. As the cost of healthcare and other benefits continues to rise, as does the complexities of the laws and regulations. Seek guidance or help if you are unclear on the right approach.
– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant