Open Enrollment Part I – Administrative Considerations

1 Oct

Plan A Plan B

This guest blog post is courtesy of Robin Rothman, Sage Product Marketing Manager.  She has over 25 years in Human Resources Management and Director roles.  She is an expert in the areas of: Associate Relations, Compensation, Affirmative Action, Recruitment, Legal Compliance, Training and Development, HRIS and Employee Benefits. 

Open enrollment is the period of time each year in which eligible employees may enroll in your health plan. Typically a couple of months prior to the new plan year, employees review your benefit offerings and decide which benefits they will select. Some plans may remain the same from year to year, with adjustments for any changes in the law, while other plans may feature significant and/or new benefits. Much of what is offered is up to the employer. Health plan options include traditional medical coverage, but may also include ancillary health benefits, such as Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Arrangements, Dental, Vision, Health and Wellness Programs, Employee Assistance Programs, Life and Long Term Disability Insurances.
There are so many components to an Open Enrollment Process. The information below will provide you with some points you may want to consider incorporating into your Open Enrollment process.

Planning the Administrative Pieces of the Process
Create folders and/or presentation material to house the hard-copy information that you will be providing to the employees. The presentation material should remain continuous from year to year so the employee’s and/or their significant others can easily identify the material for their reference. It’s like creating your internal benefit brand. Have fun with this step. It’s your chance to be creative. If you’re not a creative person, no worries…enlist the help of someone within your company. It’s ok to sometimes step outside of the box; especially when it comes to creatively finding ways to engage your employees in material that can sometimes be viewed as complex or unexciting.

Next, prepare your employee census. This typically contains items such as name, address, ssn, home zip codes etc. This will be particularly helpful especially if you utilize the services of a broker or direct carrier. Use your HRIS to create reports and queries. If you’ve used reports the previous year, update all report headings with the current year/new dates for Open Enrollment. Accidentally reviewing reports with inaccurate dates could become very confusing to you and for anyone else who will need to review your reports throughout the process.

Schedule a meeting with your insurance provider and/or broker to begin the plan selection process. This should be completed as early as possible to enable enough time to ensure your selection fits within your employer’s budget. Review benchmarking survey reports to get an accurate picture of what other businesses within your industry are offering to ensure you remain competitive in attracting and retaining top talent. Retaining these surveys for later review will help to ensure your employee’s and your Executive management have some comfort level in knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure their benefit dollars have been spent wisely.

If there are ancillary benefits where the contract dates are expiring, (such as Dental or Vision), contact these providers to obtain any price increase information that could impact your budget. At this time, they may provide you with new offerings that should be considered as well. If you are working with a broker, a reminder email to the broker well in advance of the process will be mutually beneficial.

Pre-order hard copy materials as far in advance as possible to ensure that you will have what you need when you need it. This would include presentation folders, pens, paper etc. In doing this, you avoid any last minute scramble in the event these items are on back order with the vendor or are unavailable because they have been discontinued.
Labels for presentation materials should be printed and reviewed for accuracy (i.e.; name spelling, department location etc.). This is a great time to ensure the accuracy of your database for basic items that are sometimes overlooked.

Reserve time with the Information Technology resources you may need for system/plan program changes. Department leads appreciate your pro-activity in helping them manage the resources you need. Reserve time with any external resources you need with your vendor for plan and/or program changes. It is advisable to estimate a little more time than you actually need due to the nature of unforeseen system issues that could arise. Accurately budgeting for external Technology resources should become a part of your pre-process each year.

In the next blog installment, we’ll provide you with some items to consider in preparation of budgeting and/or Executive review.

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