Allison Hutton

Using an Open Enrollment Cheat Sheet: Identifying Your Best Options

Creating an open enrollment cheat sheet can help employees prepare for their health care enrollment period. Understanding the process in advance is key to avoiding confusion, frustration and an overwhelmed HR decision-maker. Employers should prepare for not only legal compliance but also for the common questions that arise during open enrollment.

An open enrollment cheat sheet should:

  • Include professional resources
  • Educate employees
  • Provide clear and simple communications

Turn to the Professionals

In order for employees to make the right decisions regarding their health care, they may have questions that you aren’t prepared to answer. Working with a broker or representative, plan how you are going to educate your employees about their options. Additionally, utilize the experience of your broker or representative to ensure that you are meeting all legal requirements regarding health care coverage options for your employees. Oftentimes, these professionals are happy to be on hand during the enrollment period to help with any questions that your employees may have.

Educate Your Employees

If your employees don’t understand the process of open enrollment, then it can become something that incites confusion, anger and fear. Choosing the benefits that will help with the health and wellness of employees and their families is important, so hold brief informational meetings to cover the basics of health care enrollment, such as:

  • Premiums vs. deductibles
  • Individual deductibles vs. family deductibles
  • In-network vs. out-of-network

As noted by Business News Daily, informed employees will make better financial and health-related decisions. Providing information that shows comparisons to out-of-pocket costs — including prescriptions — will prepare employees for costs that may be incurred after choosing a benefits plan.

Provide Clear and Simple Communications

According to Forbes, employers tend to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to informing employees about their enrollment options. On the one hand, employers themselves are overwhelmed with the laws and regulations governing health care, so they are giving employees every form, memo, update and piece of information available. On the other hand, there are employers who feel that everything necessary to know is available outside of the workplace. These employers feel that employees can research and find all available information, and can discern it on their own time.

In the middle of all of this are the employees. Too much information leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed, and too little information leaves them feeling uninformed. Providing the right balance of information is important in encouraging employees to make the best decisions about health care.

Open Enrollment Cheat Sheet

Your open enrollment cheat sheet could include information necessary to you — as an employer — such as:

  • The name and contact information of your broker or representative
  • Date of meeting with representative, to discuss open enrollment options
  • Date of “open house” for employees, where a representative will be on-hand to answer enrollment questions
  • Important dates related to open enrollment (start/end dates)
  • Simple plan overviews, easily understood by employees

While the open enrollment period can be chaotic, having a well-informed workforce will ensure that the process runs smoothly, with the best results for everyone involved.

Allison Phillips is an experienced writer, editor, communications professional, researcher and social media consultant. During her more than 15 years of communications and writing experience, Allison has worked with a variety of clients, from small-business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She has an M.S. in entertainment business, a B.A. in communication and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and four children.

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