Quick Summary: Effectively communicating open enrollment information can be a challenge. But if you start well ahead, you can turn that challenge into an opportunity.
Even though you might still be ironing out the details of next year’s benefits, you can begin talking a few months before the rollout about what lies ahead. There’s a lot you can share with employees that will pave the road to open enrollment.
Set the stage. Let employees know last year’s results. Did medical and drug costs increase or decrease? Was utilization up or down? This helps to put future changes in context.
Identify key messages. Your most important points should be reinforced frequently. Begin early by communicating about the “big picture” messages. These might include whether plan changes will be major or minor, or if you expect employee costs to go up, down, or remain the same.
But don’t leave employees hanging! If a major change is in the works, offer a general idea of what that change is. You might, for example, say that you’ll be introducing a consumer driven health plan and contributing to a health savings account and give employees an explanation of the concept. Begin the education process early. Specifics can come later.
Address benefits eligibility. Now is the perfect time to review eligibility requirements. This reminder will give employees time to look into alternatives if a dependent will no longer be eligible for coverage.
Introduce new tools. What resources can you suggest that will make your employees better health care consumers? Let’s face it, health care and benefits are complicated. Employees welcome help in learning to make good decisions.
Remind employees of retirement savings options. Many workers have stopped contributing to retirement plans in the uncertain economy. Explain the importance of continuing to save.
Promote cost-free benefits. Don’t let employees lose sight of benefits that cost them nothing but improve their quality of life. It might be wellness programs, flex time, employee assistance programs, or discounts—all are part of your benefits package and should be highlighted.
• Use the months leading up to open enrollment as a time for employee education.
• Avoid information overload. While there may be a lot to communicate, don’t do it all at once.
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