Open Enrollment Season Begs for Communication Upgrade

Open enrollment season is upon us, and with it, the eternal struggle to understand health care plans and benefits. The open enrollment period for health insurance can be a confusing and stressful time for employees. With so many options and so much information to sift through, it’s no wonder that many people feel overwhelmed.

Many employees struggle with misunderstandings regarding their health insurance coverage and are, therefore, unsure of how to choose from plans offered by employers. More than half of employed Americans don’t feel they are getting the most out of the health insurance options available to them. Add to that, not knowing where to turn for answers, and 54% of employees are left unsure of what their current health insurance offers them.

Especially with the rise of remote or hybrid work taking conversations virtual, effective communication regarding insurance benefits has never been more vital. Here’s why it’s so important.

The Doom of the Education Gap

An alarming percentage of employees, especially in a younger age range, don’t fully understand the scope of their insurance coverage. When it comes to open enrollment, few understand which plan will be the most comprehensive for their unique health needs.

44% of employed U.S. adults said they feel uncomfortable asking their HR representative questions about health insurance enrollment.

For such a large decision, many employed Americans are unsure about who to turn to if they have questions. Often, they simply continue to select the same insurance plan year after year because they’re unsure of how another plan could be more (or less) beneficial than what they currently have.

The lack of understanding, partnered with the lack of communication with their HR team, may lead to fewer benefits, higher costs, or a lack of coverage in general.

72% said they wish someone would tell them what the best health insurance for their unique situation is.

What can we glean from this information? As open enrollment season approaches, it’s important for HR professionals to be prepared to help employees navigate the process. While open enrollment can be a confusing and stressful time for many people, there are some simple steps that HR can take to make the process smoother.

First, it’s essential to provide clear and concise information about the open enrollment period, including deadlines and eligibility requirements. Secondly, ensure employees have access to resources that can help them understand their options and make informed decisions. Finally, be available to answer questions and offer guidance as needed. By taking these steps, HR professionals can help make open enrollment a less daunting experience for everyone involved. Let’s explore each one in depth.

Open Enrollment Communication is Vital

Clear lines of communication between the employer (in this case, represented by the HR department) and employee are absolutely essential when it comes to the success of open enrollment. Not only to ensure that employees have a full understanding of each plan to make an informed decision but also to ensure the employers’ thoughtful benefits are being fully utilized.

49% feel pressure to select the most expensive health insurance option to ensure they have the coverage that they need.

Employees are facing the rise of inflation, an impending recession, and overall economic uncertainty. The choices they make in their medical health are consequential to their livelihood and pocketbook. If not fully understood, they’re also not fully appreciated. As employees continue to seek higher wages, they may be leaving behind better medical coverage without their knowledge.

63% of employees say that their company’s health insurance offerings impact how much they want to keep working there.

While the ill-informed continue to make the same insurance selection year after year, it’s also the employers’ loss. Even as organizations improve their benefits, in some cases, to retain or attract employees, they could go unnoticed or unappreciated. Two-way communication between HR and your employees ensures your team understands and can take advantage of those benefits.

64% say that they would be willing to sacrifice some pay for better health insurance.

What to explain to your colleagues during open enrollment:

  • Deadlines for enrollment
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Where to find resources that explain coverage
  • The benefits and drawbacks of PPOs, HMOs, POS, and HSA plans
  • The difference between deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket costs

Explain Options for Informed Decisions

For example, HR pros can provide employees with a list of eligible dependents, help them calculate their monthly premium costs, and answer any questions they have about the open enrollment process. In addition, you could also provide employees with resources about open enrollment outside of the company, such as government websites or independent open enrollment counselors.

You can also help to simplify the open enrollment process by providing employees with resources such as benefit summaries, comparison charts, and contact information for benefit providers. In addition, HR professionals can provide employees with guidance on choosing the best benefits for their individual needs.

Be Ready for Questions

We’ve all heard the jokes about HR during open enrollment season. It’s not easy, and a lot of the success of open enrollment (and your employees’ continued use of company-provided benefits) falls squarely on the HR department. So how can you make it easier on yourself?

To prepare for open enrollment, HR pros should first review the employee handbook and benefits policies to ensure that they are up to date on all of the available options. To be prepared for the inevitable questions, ensure you familiarize yourself with any changes that have been made since last year. Other ideas that will make this hectic season easier:

  • Create a one-pager for employees and a more in-depth version for yourself. Keep it close at hand for when questions arise.
  • Have the number of your benefits provider(s) or broker on hand for questions that are beyond your abilities.
  • Set calendar reminders for important deadlines (or the day before) so you can ensure stragglers don’t miss out.
  • Work with a professional consultant to help it all go off without a hitch!

Managed HR Services is the Remedy

When your team is lean and your list of priorities is long, you need a way to work smarter, not harder.

By outsourcing your HR needs to PREDICTIVEHR, you can focus on strategic decisions and future planning—while we take the transactional task of open enrollment off your plate.

PREDICTIVEHR Managed HR Services gives you time to focus on strategic responses to everything else the market is throwing at you. Our team handles your department’s transactional work, such as open enrollment, so you don’t have to shoulder the burden. When your team is equipped with the properly configured benefits module of a full-suite HCM system, your organization can help employers communicate effectively and efficiently with less effort on HR & Payroll.

Ensure your organization is prepared for open enrollment and whatever else comes your way. Book a demo with PREDICTIVEHR today!