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November 7, 2012

Open Enrollment Is Just Around the Corner

Filed under: Benefits,General HR Buzz,Insurance,Wellness — Tags: 6:00 am

Benefits open enrollment is usually a very busy and stressful time of year for HR professionals.  It requires much more time and thought than many in an organization realize.  Whether your open enrollment plan year is on the calendar year or on another fiscal year, there are several things to consider when preparing for open enrollment.  Following are some suggestions:

Plan Ahead – - – Begin communicating with your broker or other insurance provider at least three months prior to the plan year.  This will allow them to gather the necessary information on your current plan along with the new proposed costs, so that you and your executive team will be able to make informed decisions whether to continue the current plan, make changes to it, or shop for other options.

Make a List – - – Put your wish list in writing!  If you want to propose additional insurance coverage, such as adding a High Deductible Health Plan with a Health Savings Account option, dental insurance, vision or supplemental insurances, now is the time to do it.  Make sure you have thoroughly prepared and you have the numbers to support the reasons why you have proposed the changes and how they will satisfy your employees’ insurance usage needs.  An employee benefits survey can be of great value in this area when it is completed in the “off” season.

Decide if wellness initiatives will be included in helping employees offset some of the cost of their ever increasing premiums.  Educating them in a healthier lifestyle and teaching them the long term benefits of changing their behaviors can have lasting value.  Assisting employees to make the connection between health care costs and their health can have a huge positive impact on their dollar.  Thus, it is a win-win for both employee and employer.

Communicate with Others – - – Always remember that HR is usually on a different planning schedule than other departments.  Arrange open enrollment meetings with that in mind.  Inquire of managers and make sure your open enrollment meetings won’t interfere with the organization’s other key business plans.  You will gain their support and they will know they have yours!

Keep It Simple – - – Whether you have paperless enrollment or not, communicate any changes in insurance programs to your employees early and educate them as to where they can find answers to their questions.  This will help them to understand how the changes will affect them and their dependents.   Publicizing open enrollment early, will encourage the mindset for employees to begin making their choices in coverage.

Ask for Help! – - -You don’t have to go it alone.  Use other team members to review all documents and communications before publishing to employees to make sure all the information is correct.  This will save lots of time and hopefully keep you from making apologies and corrections later!  Utilize your broker and any representatives from your insurance companies that can be available onsite for interaction with your employees and allow employees to ask them specific questions.

Once the rush is over, keep good notes for the next year to map your strategy.  Record what went well and what needs to be creatively adjusted.  And, by all means, give yourself and your team a pat on the back!

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