Choosing benefits in the workplace can sometimes be a daunting task for employees. The more you can do in terms of communication and guidance during open enrollment season for your employees, the less stressed they are likely to become when navigating the terrain and weighing their options.
Open Enrollment Requirements
Open enrollment season is a predetermined time period when employees are given the option to elect benefits (for the first time) or alter the options offered by their employer(s) for benefits including health, dental and vision, as well as other voluntary employee benefits down to life insurance and even pet insurance. Some benefits may be covered fully by the employer, while others are absorbed completely by the employee, whereas many share the burden of the cost of the benefit.
The allotted time period for open enrollment is chosen by employers so that it will be completed weeks before all enrollment forms need to be submitted to providers. Where most employee benefit plans start as of January 1st, open enrollment for many companies is slated in November. While the process does not have to take place over a specific length of time, most employers opt to hold the period between two to four weeks.
Make Employees Aware of Options and Changes Early
Since cost is always a colossal factor when employees make their selections for benefits, employers should encourage them to consider their health and relationship status and family’s needs when determining the right coverage. Also, review any significant changes to health and savings plans with your employees before they go in to make their selections. Lastly, urge your employees to consider some of these topics before they make their final decisions:
- Has the medical benefits administrator changed? Do I enroll or make my selections online and do I have my enrollment log-in information?
- Do I need to add or change a spouse or dependent(s) for health coverage?
- Are my doctor(s) or medical service provider(s) still covered/in network?
- Will my prescription drugs remain to be covered or have any been excluded?
- Are there new or expanded health plan options that weren’t offered before?
- Are complementary or alternative medical services covered or included?
- Has the wellness plan changed or been expanded to include more services?
- Are there new or expanded voluntary plan benefits that I should consider?
Overall, employees want to feel like they are the ones ultimately in charge of their benefits and coverage. In order for that to happen, they have to feel empowered to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. The only way to achieve that is to arm them with the right information.