Open enrollment season is upon us, that period each year when employees can make changes in their existing health plans.
Unfortunately, for too many HR managers, it’s one of the most stressful times of the year. In part, that may be because they haven’t had time to plan adequately. To help, here’s a checklist and some tips that we hope will ease the tension in the weeks ahead.
For starters, compile essential information in one, easy-to-read document. Create a one-page information sheet that defines key terms and includes contact names and numbers, important websites, and a list of all the information employees will need on hand to complete required forms.
To help employees select the plan option that best meets their needs, employers will want to make sure they provide employees with information about the following:
- A general summary of what benefits are covered by the plan.
- Limits on coverage, as well as limits on coverage for certain conditions.
- Coverage for preventive services, procedures and medications.
- Prescription drug coverage details.
- Cost-sharing (e.g., premium contribution, deductible, copayment or coinsurance requirements).
- Consumer-directed and high-deductible health plans or other non-traditional plan types.
Now, here are some ways employers can improve their open enrollment communication strategies:
- Communicate frequently with employees regarding their health coverage options, but avoid overwhelming them with information. Give them ample time to absorb new information, ask questions and express concerns.
- Use simple terms to explain changes.
- Be ready to answer questions and face challenges from employees regarding changes.
- Be honest and direct when discussing health benefits, especially if employees are facing cost increases for their coverage.
- Discuss the “Five Cs” of enrollment with employees: Cost, coverage information, changes to plans, comparisons to last year’s plans and current options.
- Provide information to employees about the health care providers or networks that will be available to them in new or revised plan options.
- Provide testimonials from other employees about their experiences with changes in health care coverage.
- Use a variety of communication methods, such as the Internet, printed materials and face-to-face discussions. Consider putting notices on paycheck stubs. Whether on hard checks or online, adding reminders about open enrollment on documents employees will be sure to look at is an effective way of keeping open enrollment top of mind.
- Finally, reach out to employees’ spouses and families. Many times, the actual decision-maker on health insurance isn’t the employee, but their spouse or other family member.
Scott McGraw is Vice President of CCIG’s Employee Benefits division. He can be reached at 720-330-7924 or ScottM@thinkccig.com.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.