Open Enrollment Season


It's time to get your open enrollment up and running!

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It’s no secret that a robust and competitive benefits platform is one of the best tools to recruit and retain the best and the brightest talent in your industry. This is especially true in today’s competitive job market. As a refresher, open enrollment is the single timeframe each year in which eligible employees may enroll in your health plan offerings and even offer additional voluntary benefit products.

During this time—typically a month or two prior to the new plan renewal date—each employee should review any new and/or changes to each benefit offering and decide upon which benefits best suit their needs. This is also the time when an employee can add or remove dependents with little difficulty from carrier rules and restrictions. Flock provides a simple enrollment wizard and displays cost per-pay-period and easy side-by-side comparisons for your employees...easy peasy for your employees and eliminates paper.

Although some of the plans being offered may stay the same from year to year, you will generally see adjustments to overall plan designs (EPO, HMO, PPO, allowed amounts, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses etc.) or simply even ACA requirements, while other products offered may be significant and completely new benefits. Health plan options often include traditional medical/dental/vision coverage, but may also include other health benefits, such as:

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
  • Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) (requires new enrollments each plan year)
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)
  • Life Insurance plans
  • STD and LTD plans
  • Holistic Wellness/Fitness programs
  • Voluntary benefits
  • And many others

Communicate Early & Often to Employees

In most cases, employees will enroll or re-enroll in your benefit plan offerings during the open enrollment period set by you and your trusted broker. Employees always need to be reminded each year, unless they incur a qualified life event, they will not be able to change their mind and sign up for coverage in the middle of the plan year.

It’s critical for each employee and any of their eligible family members to understand all of their options for the coming year during your designated open enrollment timeframe. The Flock platform typically completes enrollments within a few weeks or less. How? It’s simple, employees have access 24/7 to the benefits enrollment wizard and a host of reference materials to help them in making selections.  

We always suggest you start the open enrollment communication process as early as possible (right after final decisions with your broker) and consider how to brand the overall offerings and value in particular ways that will effectively appeal to your audience. (Millennials, gen x, gen y etc.).

Your trusted broker can assist you in considering and implementing many different mediums to best communicate open enrollment to your most valued HR clients- employees. Flock allows you to broadcast messages with a single click and it automatically posts your messages not only the employee’s activity page but also directly in each employee’s email and the best part, it’s done in real time. Furthermore, brokers who use Flock as their enrollment platform will also be able to offer up proven methods, guidelines, templates and additional communication strategies along with suggesting webinars, videos, blog posts, social media reminders and a few in-person meetings. Remember, no matter how great the plan offerings are compared to your competitors, if you don’t communicate them effectively, they become worthless and don’t further your overall business objectives of providing a competitive benefits program.

Prompt Employees to Consider

  • How frequently they expect to use doctors’ services, drug prescriptions and other health care items or services.
  • Your employees may also want to confirm that their doctors are in-network provided by the existing/new plan(s).
  • Current health risk conditions
  • Financial assets and tax liability (in some cases how contributions can be taxed)

Suggestions

1) Design a Clear and Concise Open Enrollment Announcement
Summarize key information, keeping it as short as possible, including:

  • Comparative value and company contributions
  • Open enrollment beginning and ending dates for all benefits
  • Pre-tax/Post-tax contribution(s) required by employees for each specific benefit
  • Premium increases (if any)
  • Any new or additional benefit changes

2) Create and Follow a Rigid Schedule
Create a timeline to distribute the required open enrollment materials to ensure a successful open enrollment. An example of a potential timeline:

  • Email and/or snail mail your open enrollment announcement 21-14 days prior to the open enrollment period
  • Once open enrollment begins, send each eligible employee a task reminder to enroll in benefits and reiterate changes for the new plan year - one click (will also hit each employee via email)
  • Send a Flock broadcast message/email reminders/blogs/social media 1-3 days before the open enrollment period begins (include FAQs and common scenarios as an effective way to respond to the most commonly asked questions)
  • Send a reminder on the 1st and 2nd days of open enrollment to all employees, which includes information such as open enrollment requirements and deadlines
  • Check Flock every 2 to 3 days to quickly send a reminder to those who have not enrolled - one click (will also hit each employee via email)
  • A few days before open enrollment ends, send a reminder to those eligible employees who have not completed their assigned open enrollment task. - one click (will also hit each employee via email)
  • Last day of open enrollment, broadcast a single message to all eligible employees -one click (will also hit each employee via email)

3) Don't Overlook the Human Interaction/Touch
Flock provides a support channel for you and your employees to help them with any issues which may arise. You should also ensure a company/carrier representative is accessible to employees throughout the open enrollment timeframe. These team members should be well versed in the changes (if any) and can answer questions and serve as a resource to your employee population. Allocating some staff hours to this effort is a wise investment that will limit frustration and ensure a better experience for employees as they enroll.

4) Debrief, Survey and Distribute Required Benefits Notices or Disclosure Statements

  • A few weeks after open enrollment ends, make sure to schedule a meeting with your trusted advisor and debrief on what went well and which areas can be improved upon for the next open enrollment period.
  • Survey your employees on Flock activity page for further feedback and their personal experiences.
  • Finally, work with your trusted broker and ensure that all required notices are stored in the Flock system or employee reference libraries, such as the Federal/State ACA Exchange Model Notice, Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), Summary Plan Description (SPD), and HIPAA Notice of Special Enrollment Rights etc.

The benefits jargon and acronyms can become confusing even for the most seasoned benefits professional. Click here to download a complimentary open enrollment definitions guide. This can be a valuable resource for both our employers and each of your employees.


The information provided here does not constitute, nor serve as a substitute for legal advice. Please consult legal counsel to ensure all facts and circumstances are taken into account in complying with applicable state and federal law.

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