Suzanne Lucas

Can I Give My Employees Open Enrollment Advice?

Does open enrollment communication to employees often seem to fall on deaf ears? It turns out employees do want open enrollment help. In fact, 55 percent of employees wish their employers would give them advice during open enrollment. But is that something you should do? Is it something you even can do?

Why Do Employees Want Advice?

Health care plans sometimes change. When open enrollment comes around each year, employees may have to choose between plans that didn’t exist the year before, so they can’t always say, “Yes, this one worked well for me, so I’ll stay with it.”

Not only do prices, providers and overall benefits all change, but even when plans do stay the same, employees might find they need different benefits. A plan that worked for a single person isn’t always the best plan for them after they’re married with a baby on the way.

This is a lot to navigate alone, and general information about open enrollment is often painted with such a broad brush that it can seem more overwhelming than helpful.

Can I Give My Employees Open Enrollment Advice?

Yes and no. There are two very different forms of advice: The first lays out available options and their consequences. The second tells people what they should do.

As an employer, you’re neither a licensed insurance broker nor a licensed financial planner. You can help people think through what plan they want to pick, but stay away from saying things like, “This plan is the best one for you and your family.”

Your part of the selection process is in choosing the available plans. Let the employees pick their plans within that group.

How Can I Help My Employees Choose the Right Plan?

Because health insurance information can be so complex, you’ll want your open enrollment communication to employees to be as simple and straightforward as possible. If you’re struggling to find the middle ground between general open enrollment information and direct health plan advice, providing an open enrollment checklist for employees is a good way to engage your workforce without setting yourself up for legal trouble later on. Offer a list of questions employees can reference as they choose a plan, such as:

  • Does my chosen plan cover my current doctors?
  • Does my portion of the cost share work for me and my family?
  • What do I think my health care needs will be next year?
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Questions like these help employees think through their health care plan decision. You can also combine a checklist with a chart that details the deductibles, copays and monthly contributions for each plan, so employees can easily find out which plan best meets their needs.

Ensuring that employees make a well-informed decision — that you can help with. But you don’t have to tell them exactly what to do.

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