Open enrollment; these two words have
been known to cause anxiety for even
the most seasoned HR professionals.
Selecting a plan design, negotiating rates,
sifting through stacks of benefit directories
even figuring out where to hold the enrollment all fall under your responsibilities.
“It’s no wonder why employers and
human resources professionals everywhere dread that time of the year and are
now looking for ways to take the sting off
of their company’s open enrollment
process,” says Gracy Weberman, an agent
with Sapoznik Insurance. “Employers
everywhere are looking for answers on
how to counter increases in health insurance costs and at the same time stimulate
plan participation. It’s a balancing act that
requires a bit of help from an experienced
Smart Business spoke with Weberman
about the role of a qualified insurance broker before, during and after a company’s
open enrollment period.
As a company nears its open enrollment,
what are some things to consider?
Build on experience, start by using what
you learned from last year’s enrollment to
create this year’s plan and be sure to start
early. Make note of what worked and what
your employees responded to the most.
Working with an experienced employee
benefits broker can also help greatly. A
good broker can guide you through the delicate negotiation process that can often
take place months in advance.
Experienced brokers can guide you and
help reduce a lot of the pressure that
comes from electing the proper plan
designs and funding strategies.
With so much going on, how should a company approach open enrollment?
Set up a timeline. Developing a realistic time line will help you manage what to do
and when to get started. Depending on the
size of your group, some full service brokers begin preparing for your open enrollment up to seven months in advance. This
allows for the timely negotiation of rates
and evaluation of plan designs to ensure
that they fit your company’s needs. It also
ensures the accurate assembly of materials, kits and supplies all of which can be
handled by a strong broker externally, and
then delivered right to the company as they
are required. Be selective and know what
to ask for from your broker. Full service
insurance agents should be able to “think
outside the box” when it comes to creative
ways of reaching your workforce.
How do the venue, location and hours of the
open enrollment contribute to its success?
The space where a company holds its
open enrollment is crucial to a successful
meeting. An area with adequate room for
insurance carriers and enrollers to effectively communicate and engage your
employees allows for greater interaction and typically results in better participation
from your employees. Make sure you
schedule your enrollment period during
hours where all of your employees can
attend and make sure you accommodate
those employees who may work late shifts
or have alternate schedules. Sometimes,
more than one date is required for a given
workplace. Be prepared to plan for follow-up meetings when necessary.
How do you get your employees involved?
When it comes to involvement, communication is the key. Now that you have set
the location and time, be sure to get the
word out. Communicate your open enrollment through flyers, payroll stuffers and
email announcements to help generate a
buzz about the enrollment period. Be sure
to remind employees to bring in their
spouses or dependents social security
numbers, dates of birth and other general
information that will facilitate signing up
Following these steps and working with a
qualified insurance broker are the best way
to break free from open enrollment anxieties while strengthening the benefits your
company provides and raising participation levels for your upcoming employee
benefits open enrollment.
GRACY WEBERMAN is an agent with Sapoznik Insurance.
Reach her at (877) 948-8887 or [email protected].