Running Your Business

How to Help With Employee Insurance Decisions

  • Employers should start providing benefits information a few weeks before open enrollment begins

  • Employers and HR should host a review of key benefit terms and discuss what changed with the plan

  • Employees have different learning styles so employers should provide a mix of materials that explain benefits

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Posted by October 16, 2017

When your employees sign up for benefits during open enrollment, it could be the first time that many are navigating your plan. They need your support, especially since these employee insurance decisions will be locked in for the rest of the year. Here’s how you can help your team make the right choices.

Hold Review Sessions and Explain Plan Changes

After a year, your employees have likely forgotten many of the technical insurance terms for their benefits. To refresh everyone, you should hold a group review session so employees understand the information in your plan materials. Go over key terms like deductibles, co-insurance and provider networks, so they can properly evaluate different plans.

Your review sessions should focus specifically on how the new options will be different compared to the past year’s benefits. For example, if the deductible for your family health insurance plan went up from $4,000 per year to $6,000, this is something your employees need to know ahead of time. Otherwise, they might automatically enroll for the same plan, only to realize it’s not a good fit for them after it’s too late.

Start Reviewing Early

Open enrollment is a hectic few weeks. This is not the time for employees to be getting a refresher or asking basic questions. Instead, start providing information weeks before, so employees have ample time to review and discuss their options.

Employees should already know what they want to sign up for as they enter open enrollment. That way, you can all just focus on completing the paperwork and maintaining productivity.

Reach Out to New Employees

Your new employees will need the most help with their employee insurance decisions. They might feel overwhelmed comparing the different options in your health insurance, retirement plan and other benefits.

Don’t just ask if they are happy with the benefits—make sure they understand the package they’ve chosen. For example, younger employees often just sign up for the least expensive health insurance plan because they are only looking at the premium cost. Make sure they realize how their coverage would work, and how much they would pay out-of-pocket for using the plan.

Provide a Mix of Materials

People have different learning styles. Some employees like getting information by watching videos, while others want to read brochures or listen to a seminar presentation. By providing a mix of materials, you’ll make sure everyone gets the information they need. Some options to consider include brochures, emails, posters, benefits booklets, training videos from the benefits company, Q&A sessions and presentations.

Simplify the Process

Technology can make enrollment much easier for you and your employees. See if your benefits provider lets employees sign up online. This makes the process faster for employees, since they can automatically upload information from the year before. If they miss a form, they’ll get an electronic notice instead of a paper note—which can be easily misplaced. You can also track who has signed up and who hasn’t.

If an employee prefers to use paper forms or if it’s the only option available, give them all of the enrollment information in one package. That way, they can fill out everything at the same time and will be less likely to misplace information.

Ask for Professional Support

Managing open enrollment on top of your day-to-day responsibilities is a lot for you and HR to handle. Does your benefits provider offer any additional support? They may be willing to send in a representative to make a presentation or help employees enroll and answer questions as part of your deal. It will save you time, employees will be happier with their benefits and the benefits provider gets a satisfied client. Everyone wins.

Point Out the Financial Benefits

A presentation about open enrollment should do more than simply help employees make good decisions for their benefits. It’s also a time to promote just how much value you’re offering. When employees don’t fully understand or appreciate what they’re getting, they may underestimate their total compensation.

For example, if you offer disability or life insurance through a voluntary benefits plan, point out how much the coverage would cost if an employee bought this coverage on their own. You can reduce turnover by making employees appreciate everything they receive.

Open enrollment will always be hectic, but by following this advice, you and your employees can make the most out of this important time of year.

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