Tips for Assisting Your Employees During Open Enrollment Season

If you have been part of leading the open enrollment efforts at an organization, you understand the difficulty that comes with ensuring your communications are read and that team members take action and enroll accordingly. 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 appealing as sitting down to do your taxes. To many, the task is very daunting and often filled with confusion and questions that need to be answered. To kick start your benefits season the right way, here are some suggestions you can consider that may help diminish the confusion that comes with open enrollment and increase your team member’s participation rate.

Break it down for your employees

The pandemic created a major impact on the physical and emotional health for many that is still being felt today. This impact has caused many employees to look more closely at the health benefits available to them during 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 benefits 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 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 website to help your employees get comfortable with some of the common benefits terminology.

Help 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. At BerganKDV, we understand the complexities that come with benefits season. That’s why we created a comprehensive open enrollment guide to help streamline the process. Check it out here.


CATEGORIES: Human Capital Management
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