Open Enrollment Season – Tips for Success

Mercer PeoplePro Blog Open Enrollment

How to Achieve Open Enrollment Success

Open enrollment season is quickly approaching. As you begin your planning we offer 5 key actions you’ll want to be aware of.

Identify Your Benefit Plan Needs and Objectives

Before doing anything, first consider:

  • What your healthcare benefit needs are and whether they’ve changed from this year.
  • Your budget for the coming year and whether your current benefits are still affordable
  • What you need your benefits to accomplish for your workforce

While many small business owners may be primarily concerned with affordability and the administrative time needed to manage and maintain a program, an attractive benefits package can have a positive effect on recruiting and retaining key employees. Identifying and understanding how your benefits impact your overall business goals will help you to develop the best plan for your small business. Above all, keep your benefits package simple but effective — easy to administer for you, easy to access and use for employees.

Check Your Process — Does Everything Work?

Nothing creates more work than a messy, or broken, process. If nothing else, open enrollment is essentially the same thing every year — define/renew your benefits, communicate to employees, conduct enrollment, submit enrollment data to benefit vendors, then just wait for the start of the new plan year. But there are a lot of places that process can break down and result in a lot of problems. Here a couple heads-up tips to avoid potential chaos:

  • Check your enrollment platform — Did the vendor make any changes or upgrades? Do they still need the same data? Has the functionality been improved with things you can use?
  • Check your paper trail (if you don’t enroll online) — Are there any new people you need to train? Do you have the contact information you need? And, double-check the quality control on the input process.
  • Check your benefit coverage closely — any plan design changes you need to communicate?

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

With special thanks to the HealthCare Trend institute

Employers with 50 or fewer employees (and in some states 100 or fewer employees) can purchase coverage through the SHOP marketplace, which was created under the ACA.

Some small businesses may even qualify for a tax credit if they:

  • Have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • Pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year
  • Pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums

SHOP is an efficient and cost effective way for small employers to purchase health coverage as well as other benefits. It also enhances the open enrollment experience for employees because you may be able to offer a wider array of choices, possibly at better prices than you can get on your own outside of SHOP. Check to see if a SHOP marketplace is offered in your state.

Workplace Wellness Programs

The ACA creates new incentives for an employer to promote wellness programs that create healthier workplaces and encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles. Employers can incentivize programs that help employees lose weight, quit tobacco, or increase physical activity, within certain guidelines. That’s good news—it’s been proven that healthier employees have lower health care costs, are more productive and have lower absenteeism. And while these programs may require individuals to meet a specific goal to earn their incentive, they also promote an overall healthier work environment and foster team support

Employee Communications

Organizations both large and small know to make employee communications a priority. They recognize an engaged and informed workforce makes for a more successful organization. Open enrollment season provides the perfect time to engage with employees, and get a read on what they may be looking for in not just a benefits program but overall. If you are considering a change in your company’s offerings be sure to communicate and educate your employees so that they can understand the changes being made and the advantages the new coverage has to offer. Clear, timely communication will allow you to avoid confusion and the questions and concerns that often arise from benefit plan changes.

Mercer PeoplePro Can Help

If you’d like additional tips to help you prepare for open enrollment, Mercer PeoplePro is standing by and ready to help. Visit MercerPeoplePro today to schedule an appointment and enjoy a free consultation, plus 2 free hours towards your first project.


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