Open enrollment brings numerous tasks, activities, presentations, and employee communications as you work to make sure your people get the healthcare coverage they need. With all your HR team has on their to-do lists, it’s relatively common for some employees to miss their open enrollment deadlines — despite best efforts to remind and keep them informed.
In most cases, missed deadlines result from employees simply forgetting to turn in their enrollment documentation on time. Those who miss this deadline will have to wait until next year’s open enrollment season to sign up for a plan.
Exceptions and Special Enrollment
In some cases, employees may be forgiven for missing the deadline and allowed to join a plan during a limited special enrollment period. This exception can be granted by a qualifying life-changing event such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse or dependent.
It’s important to note that employees who qualify for special enrollment have 30 days from the life-changing event to make any changes to their coverage. Should they miss that deadline, they’ll need to wait until the next open enrollment season to make updates.
Encouraging Employees to Stay on Top of Open Enrollment
Assuming the employer has made reasonable efforts to notify employees of pending open enrollment dates and provided ample time to submit the necessary documents, missed deadlines are ultimately the employees’ responsibility. This typically means the employer is not liable for any losses those employees might incur from lack of coverage.
With that in mind, as an employer, you want your staff to be healthy, safe, productive, and engaged. That includes ensuring your employees have the health plans they want and the coverage they need. So how do you encourage your team to stay on top of their enrollment deadlines and documentation while you continue running your business?
Keeping track of who has or hasn’t submitted their paperwork and following up with delinquent employees via text, phone and email take time and resources you’d no doubt rather spend elsewhere. Outsourcing these tasks may be one way to keep employees on track while freeing them from more important responsibilities.
Should My Business Offer Waivers of Coverage?
Yes, it is wise for your business to require waivers from any employee who declines coverage. Have the team members sign a waiver that clearly outlines the implications of waiting until the next Open Enrollment period.
The Simple Answer to Everyone’s Question
In summary, we know it is essential to encourage our employees to stay on top of their deadline dates, but what do you do when an employee misses Open Enrollment? The answer is this:
They cannot be covered if there is no life qualifying or special Open Enrollment event. This is unfortunate, especially if your employee has pre-existing health conditions or a family that needs health coverage.
So, What Can You Do?
You can offer them resources about other health care options, including Health Sharing, Telehealth, or any other insurance-like products. Insurance-like products include:
- Short-term medical, hospital indemnity plans.
- Low-income programs like Medicaid.
- Becoming self-insured.
But with insurance-like products, your employee cannot underwrite or exclude pre-existing health conditions, and they are not qualified for tax exceptions.
SureCo's Enrollment Platform for Simplified Open Enrollment
SureCo's Enrollment Platform makes it easy for your employees to shop for and purchase health plans that fit their needs and budget. What’s more, our Enrollment Platform manages employee communications to ensure staff stays on top of deadlines, decisions, and documents. Through SureCo, employees are connected to a host of educational resources, tools, notifications, and reminders that help them make faster, better-informed health plan choices.
While keeping your employees informed and on track, SureCo's Enrollment Platform dramatically reduces your administrative burden around open enrollment — including the need to track and remind employees of pending dates. Your employees own their healthcare journey. This means they will be more invested and involved in understanding their benefits, controlling their costs, and meeting their open enrollment deadlines.
Learn more about SureCo's Enrollment Platform simplified features for employees and HR departments alike.