Helping Your Employees During Open Enrollment Season

As we have already talked about, unfortunately it’s not unusual for less than 50% of recipients to even open communications related to benefits. And why is that? I think it is fair to say that the topic – although a very important one – is about as fun as thinking about doing your taxes. It feels to many like a daunting task that is filled with a lot of questions that need to be answered.

We have put together an open enrollment guide: A Guide to Better Open Enrollment. This guide can help you break down the process into simpler steps. In this blog, we are focusing on helping your employees assess what benefits are right for them and their families.

Breaking it down for your employees

COVID-19 is having a major impact on the physical and emotional health for many which in turn will likely cause many employees to look more closely at the health benefits available to them during this open enrollment season.

Here’s a list of five primary things employees need to know and/or consider:

  1. First and foremost, has the employee had any major changes in the past year or will they have a major change in the upcoming year? Things like aging out of a parent’s plan at 26, marriage and having children can all impact the right fit for an employee’s benefit strategy.
  2. Has the prescription drug coverage changed? Are there new rules on what is covered, what medicines require prior authorization, is there a change in pharmacy benefit managers?
  3. Has the health insurance company changed plan or provider networks? If so, are my doctors and other medical services providers still in-network?
  4. Can I save money on my insurance premiums by participating in a company-sponsored wellness program?
  5. Are there any changes to the additional voluntary benefits that are being offered? Things like cancer insurance, pet insurance, term life insurance, and disability insurance are important for employees to evaluate.

Help to decipher the jargon.

Employees can easily get lost in a sea of acronyms while looking at their benefits options. Research is showing that employees often don’t know how to use health savings accounts (HSAs) and the high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that go with them.

In addition, many employees don’t understand the definitions of some of the basics, like copays, deductibles, out-of-network and out-of-pocket limits.

Download a PDF of a glossary adapted from the heathcare.gov website to help your employees get comfortable with some of the common benefits terminology.

Help to decipher the cost.

In a SHRM article, Jen Benz , president of Benz Communications suggests some ideas that may help employees to understand how to compare health plans:

  • A simple side-by-side comparison. Make it easy for workers to evaluate high-deductible health plans against other employer-provided plans so they can compare what really matters to them—cost. Keep it simple: Vary only the upfront cost elements, such as premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Real-life examples and personae. Offer examples, personae and “people-like-me” stories to illustrate exactly how a high-deductible health plan works and what employees’ financial responsibilities will be. Fictional characters make it easier for people to identify with the hypothetical life situations presented. Show a variety of characters by age, covered family members, and type and frequency of care used.
  • Cost-of-care scenarios. Outline different situations to help employees better understand how the cost of care can vastly fluctuate between providers. Most health insurance companies now provide price-estimator tools. “Create different scenarios with price estimates,” Benz advised. “When employees learn an MRI can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,500, they’ll start paying more attention to what things cost before making appointments and be more selective about who they choose to visit.”

By providing your employees with a simple list of things to consider, employees can then make more educated decisions on their benefits selections that are better suited to their individual circumstances.

CATEGORIES: Workforce Management
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