Before we jump in, let’s do a quick assessment:
- Do you have a benefit enrollment portal that promotes automation and efficiency?
- Did your benefit enrollment portal eliminate past challenges with open enrollment?
- Was the timeline to go-live appropriate and not rushed?
- Did you have a smooth post-open enrollment process regarding carrier updates and payroll deductions?
- Did your employees share appreciation with how easy the open enrollment process was to complete?
If you answered “no” to any of the above, then this is the article for you! We’ll explore how the planning, communication and actions from all members of your team can get you to that utopian technology solution.
A recent VSP open enrollment survey found that 33% of workers cited annoyance or dread as their primary emotions when they thought about open enrollment, and just 10% said they were confident in their benefits choices.
These workforce challenges can begin to be mitigated by proper planning. Prior to open enrollment, be sure to take into consideration the timeline for all pre- and post-open enrollment steps that your vendor partner will need to deliver on. Your vendor should be notified of renewal details as soon as possible.
- Most vendors need 4 to 6 weeks to prepare for open enrollment. Ask your vendor to verify what they need in order to set up the renewal quickly and successfully.
- Review the configuration rules annually.
- Make quality assurance testing a priority. Have multiple team members test for rates, plans, eligibility rules, coverage limitations, annual contributions and EOI rules.
- Check in with the carriers and payroll vendors. Be clear on any integration changes and open enrollment process timelines.
- Do not forget about your COBRA Administrator. Update them with all new plan year changes and review the COBRA open enrollment timeline.
30% of employees say they need more information surrounding their benefits, according to an Aflac Workforces Report.
Communication is an essential key to success. As preliminary discussions begin regarding your renewal, make sure to keep your technology vendor partner notified. The sooner they’re looped in, the sooner they’ll be able to prioritize you.
- Your vendor will need many weeks to set up for open enrollment. See if they are available to share a timeline or project plan.
- Work with your broker for any updated benefits materials that need to be added or replaced such as benefit summaries, highlights or summary plan descriptions.
- Make the critical message the priority and be sure to capture the attention of employees.
- Review employee communication options including internal email reminders, updates to your intranet, postcards, posters and mailings. Confirm with your technology vendor which communications can be set up within the portal and delivered to employees automatically.
- Verify timelines with the carriers and payroll vendors. Ask that that they confirm receipt of new plan year file feeds.
With a 12-15% industry error-rate in benefits carrier invoices, manual data reconciliation costs employers days or weeks of non-productive time and resources.1
Although the planning steps will go a long way towards preparing for open enrollment, there are a few additional actions that can help minimize unexpected challenges.
- Conduct data audits to ensure there are no cracks in the foundation.
- Don’t repeat the past. Ask your vendor for a post-open enrollment meeting. Review your successes and opportunities for improvement. Be sure to document it so you can refer back to it at open enrollment time.
- Re-evaluate your vendor partners. Technology platforms and their capabilities change at lightening speed. If you’re not completely happy, chances are there are other options that can better meet your specific needs. Even if you don’t have any issues, consider reviewing other options if you’ve been with the same partner for four or more years to confirm that you’re still offering the most robust solutions at the right price.
Technology can seem intimidating at times, especially during an already stressful process like open enrollment. However, being strategic with your planning, communication and actions when integrating a new technology solution will help make open enrollment a success for both you and your employees.
To learn how you can leverage technology to enhance your open enrollment experience, contact an MMA Advisor.
1Everything Benefits: Free Yourself from Manual Benefits Reconciliation