Open enrollment is a critical time for employees and employers — your workforce is focused on selecting the healthcare plans they’ll be locked into for the next year. They need all the info they can get to be sure they’re choosing the one that’s best for them and their families. Here are six tips your HR team can give to your employees to empower them to select the right health plans for their needs.
1. Review Your Plan Options, Even If You're Happy With Your Current Plan
It's easy for employees to run on autopilot during open enrollment, especially if they have no issues with their current healthcare plan. If they’re not on the market for a new one, they’ll likely just do nothing, knowing they’ll get reenrolled into their existing plan. But they could be missing out on better coverage they didn’t know was available to them simply because they didn’t take some time to look into it.
Employees may also be under the false impression that their premiums will stay the same if they remain in the same plan, or if they had no significant life, health, or household changes. But a number of factors outside the employee’s control can impact premium rates (potentially increasing or decreasing them). It’s good practice for your team to remind employees to look for comparable plans every year to be doubly sure they’re getting the best coverage at the best rate.
2. Know Your Open Enrollment Deadline
While many people who receive health coverage through their employer associate November with open enrollment, there isn’t a concrete open enrollment period for every employer. Depending on when the employer sets it, open enrollment could happen at a very different time than the fall.
Don’t assume that your employees are all aware of your company’s deadline. Overcommunication is key during this period to ensure no one gets left behind and everyone has ample time to do their research and make their selections. This is especially important if you’re switching from group plans to an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA), which can happen at any time of the year — which means open enrollment would follow soon after implementation.
Whether it’s emails, messages, or good old-fashioned memos posted around the office, send out all relevant dates more than once to keep everyone in the know.
3. Review Your Entire Yearly Cost, Not Just the Cost of Your Premiums
For most employees, their biggest concern is how much they’re going to be paying every month in premiums. And the younger and healthier an employee is, the less likely they’re going to be high utilizers of their plans. But this can mean they’re not considering all of the costs associated with their plan. And if they need to go to the doctor or hospital, they might get some major sticker shock or, worse, major bills they didn’t foresee.
Your HR team should send out a list of questions employees should ask themselves when comparing health plans. Do they have any prescriptions? What is the deductible for each plan they’re considering? Do they see a specialist or think they may need to start seeing one? Are they planning on starting a family in the next year? If they had a medical emergency, would they be able to afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with their plan? Help your employees think ahead to any likely scenarios they should keep in mind when deciding on a plan, that they may not think of on their own.
4. Don’t Ignore Dental and Vision Coverage
Not every employer offers dental and vision coverage, but if your company does, absolutely encourage your employees to take it. It usually comes at very little to no cost to the employees, and is quite literally a small price to pay to protect some of the most important aspects of their health. Many studies have shown a direct correlation between oral health and the wellbeing of the rest of our bodies, but many people forego regular visits to the dentist due to the sheer cost. And it goes without saying that our eyes and vision are priceless. Reinforce the importance of having dental and vision to your employees.
5. Know the Difference Between Types of Plans
What’s the difference between an HMO and a PPO? What’s a high-deductible plan? Your HR team might know, but don’t assume that your employees do. Healthcare is intimidating and confusing, so give your employees resources to understand what the major plan types are and how they differ. Provide them with a brief explainer that gives them the need-to-know details without getting too in the weeds, but that isn’t so basic that it provides little value and just creates more confusion.
6. Take Advantage of Expert Resources
If you’re thinking of switching to an ICHRA, your employees and your HR team would be in good hands with SureCo. Our Enrollment Platform makes it easy for your workforce to browse and compare plans available to them in their area. And our empathetic, responsive Customer Experience Specialists provide assets and guidance for your HR team to give your employees the best education and support during open enrollment and beyond.
With the right guidance and preparation, open enrollment doesn’t have to be stressful for your team or your employees. Put yourself in their shoes, think ahead to the questions they may have (or might not even realize they have), and help set everyone up for success.