Employee Benefit Guidance & Compliance Solutions

Planning for Open Enrollment

Posted by on October 1, 2019 in Human Resources

Planning for Open Enrollment
By Maggie Johnson

As we go into the fall, most companies will begin the process for Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment for many employers will be held in November and sometimes into December of 2019 for the 2020 plan year. To ensure your Open Enrollment goes smoothly, here are some suggested tips.

Employee’s Share of Premium
Most employees share the cost of the premium for health insurance coverage with their employer. For 2020, it is predicted by the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans that the total health benefits costs per employee will increase by 3.9%. According to AON Consultancy’s 2020 Global Medical Trend Rates Report, healthcare benefit cost is expected to rise by 6.5% in the US. However, whether a health insurance plan is self-insured or fully-insured, the company’s claims experience is normally reflected in that company’s healthcare premium rates, and may be less or greater than the aforementioned predicted 2020 healthcare cost increases. Therefore, if your employees are facing a considerable increase in their healthcare premium contribution, you might consider mitigating that increase by taking on more of the premium cost share by your company, or implementing a salary-banded contribution system, so that lower-paid employees pay less than managers and highly-compensated executives. One of the biggest complaints made by employees is that their annual wage increase is not in alignment with the premium contribution cost increase for healthcare coverage, and they fall further behind financially each year. Regardless of your decision, it is always best to communicate to your employees about any upcoming premium increase early, preferably before Open Enrollment begins, and the reasons for the cost increase.

Help Your Employees to Make Informed Choices
Many employees are inclined to make the same benefit election as they made in the previous year. However, this may not be the best current choice for themselves and their families. It is important to provide them with education about each of your benefit plan offerings, so they can choose the best one for their particular situation. Education may be provided in Open Enrollment in-person meetings with representatives from your insurance carrier and/or your insurance broker, or through online education tools. In your written materials, such as your Benefit Guide, make sure to use easy-to-understand language (not insurance jargon), and infographics and other illustrations to help employees understand the differences between benefit options.

Plan Changes
If you’re making any changes to your plan design, give sufficient time to communicate those changes to your employees. Share the reasons for the changes, which may be to keep costs down, which should benefit employees and the employer alike.

Open Enrollment Period
Remember, the details of health insurance benefits can be confusing to employees, so build in enough time into your Open Enrollment process for employees to grasp the details, ask questions, and make their benefit elections. The most common time frame for Open Enrollment is about three weeks.

Build in Some Fun and Excitement
Wellness programs can be fun (and may help your company to improve its claims experience) especially if they are built around some friendly competition. Think about promoting team activities that focus on fitness for 2020. For example, a step challenge encourages daily activity while building camaraderie among team members. Provide a prize or celebration for the winning team to motivate participants.

Contact PF Compass for additional suggestions and best practices for a successful Open Enrollment!

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