As 2016 starts to wind down, we begin to look toward 2017. At many companies throughout the United States, this can mean only one thing: it’s time for open enrollment. If your company is considering online enrollment this year, there are several things you should know.
What are the benefits of online open enrollment?
Traditionally, enrollment has been done with old-fashioned paper. Many companies still favor this method, but perhaps not for long. Just as many other activities – shopping, sending party invitations and banking, to name a few – have gone digital, group health enrollment is doing the same.
Online enrollment uses less paper – obviously. It eliminates the risk of losing important papers or ruining them with spilled coffee. It’s convenient and can be done anywhere, anytime, without the need for postage. It also creates a permanent, sortable record that can easily be accessed in a post-ACA world that requires employers to provide proof of insurance offerings. Many online enrollment systems can generate multiple reports to assist HR departments with their reporting needs, if not manage the entire ACA reporting process from start to finish.
Furthermore, most employees like the online option. According to a survey conducted by LIMRA, 68 percent of employees strongly prefer online enrollment. In fact, a company that does not offer online enrollment is often viewed as “behind the times.”
What can help an online open enrollment go well?
First, online open enrollment is still open enrollment. Everything that’s true about open enrollment done with paper remains true when you put it online. Remember that not all employees understand their options and tend to, as a result, pick options without the deep consideration deserved. LIMRA found that most employees spend less than an hour selecting their health plan each year. In order to make sure that employees are happy with their benefits – and their jobs – employers should provide clear explanations and comparisons of plans.
Second, the convenience allowed by online enrollment is great, but it does have a downside. Some employees, aware that they can enroll at any time, may procrastinate. If they put things off too long, they may have to make rushed decisions, or worse, miss the enrollment period completely.
To avoid confusion and procrastination, take advantage of online features. Use your online enrollment, payroll or HRIS system along with social media and emails to send reminders. Post blogs that offer explanations, and answer questions regarding open enrollment.
Next, although most employees favor online enrollment, a significant portion of employees feel differently. Some of these employees may not have consistent computer access or be less technologically savvy than their coworkers. Make sure that there is assistance available for individuals who need help navigating the process. Consider providing a help line for employees to call with questions about your plans.
Finally, employees need the correct information, including URLs, identification numbers and codes necessary for enrollment. Make this readily available to employees.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, more than half of the non-elderly population in the United States receives health insurance through employer-sponsored programs. Open enrollment is important. Whether you’re doing it online or with paper, make sure you’re doing it right. Our internal HR Technology professionals and Call Response Center can help.