4 Problems That Employers Face During Open Enrollment – And How to Avoid Them

By Morgan Carpenter
September 2020

Leaves are changing, sweaters are being pulled out of closets, and lattes suddenly have way more pumpkin spice in them here in the Bay Area. This can only mean one thing – it is time for open enrollment! Despite this exciting season, we know that open enrollment may look and feel different this year. Due to COVID-19, the process will primarily be conducted via phone calls, emails, and video conferencing. However, we have outlined four common problems that emerge during open enrollment as well as tips and tricks on how to avoid them.

  1. Too Late

Each plan comes with various benefits and employees need to make a decision about whether they want to stay with, stop, or change their insurance plan. Granting employees a week or a few days to make such a decision can be incredibly stressful. It is important to give ample time to review and process the information provided to them. By proactively communicating with your colleagues, people will have time to ask questions and make an informed choice without feeling rushed. It is also important to consider how the information will be delivered. Be sure to communicate information about open enrollment in a format that works with your company in the current context. Formats can include, but are not limited to, email, social media, text, or print.

  1. Too Confusing

HMOs, PPOs, and EPOs, oh my!  The world of insurance is filled with a lot of terms and acronyms. It is totally normal to feel confused by them. In order to make sure everyone is on the same page, The Society for Human Resources (SHRM) recommends creating a glossary of terms for enrollment meetings. By doing so, employees will have a resource to turn to while making a decision regarding their insurance plan. In order to ensure that employees know exactly what to turn in and how to do so, it can be helpful to create a checklist of materials or documents.

  1. Too Infrequent

While the information at an open enrollment can be helpful, it can be a lot to absorb in one sitting. It is crucial to consistently check in with employees after the open enrollment meeting as they process the information. Creating a Kahoot quiz or crossword puzzle about various benefits terms and including them in your weekly staff email gives people a fun opportunity to assess their knowledge.

  1. Too Impersonal

Each individual has a different experience with choosing an insurance plan because their situation is unique. Encourage colleagues to reflect on how their financial circumstances (e.g. saving for retirement, sending a kid to college, paying one’s mortgage, etc.) factors into the process of choosing an insurance plan. It can also be helpful to include personal testimonials to support people as they learn and understand more about the benefits of each plan. Don’t have a personal testimony? No problem! Hypothetical situations can be just as beneficial.

How to Make Open Enrollment Go Smoothly

While these tips can help you have a smooth and successful open enrollment process, it is common for obstacles to still pop up. So, what should you do?

Reach out to Advanced Estate & Insurance Services, Inc.! We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and partner with employers throughout California. We advise businesses with 2 to 500 employees on various types of insurance, including Medical, Vision, Dental, Disability, Life/AD&D, and Key Person and Buy-Sell Life Insurance. At AEIS, we will support you through the entire open enrollment process and ensure your company has all of its questions answered. With over 30 years of experience, we take a holistic approach as we help you navigate the entire process and beyond.

Give us a call at 650.348.6234 x12 or email us at Ron@AEISAdvisors.com.

Disclaimer: Any compliance-related information in this blog is intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. Should you require further compliance assistance or legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney.

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