It’s almost that time of year again: open enrollment season!
Whether your company conducts open enrollment for health insurance benefits in September or December, now’s the time to start planning for a stress-free experience for both you and your employees.
For 2024, rising inflation is spurring a number of changes that you’ll likely have to deal with or consider, and you’ll have to communicate with employees about it. Potential changes include:
- Increased contribution limits for health savings accounts
- Higher minimum deductibles for high deductible health plans (HDHP)
- Higher maximum amounts for out-of-pocket expenses for HDDPs
So where should you start? How can you stay on track? What can you do to ensure a complete and successful process? Experts suggest several practical steps to help you manage your timeline for planning and implementing your open enrollment process.
Use the following multi-point checklist as a guide:
- Reflect on last year’s open enrollment campaign. Understand what went right, what could have gone better, and, which, if any, process improvements you would like to make this year.
- Review overall company goals with leadership for the coming year. Confirm (or adjust) your benefits strategy to align with it.
- Determine overall changes that may impact your 2024 benefits budget. This includes major shifts in your workforce and possible mergers and acquisitions, as well as new office locations that could impact or pose challenges to how you communicate key dates and activities or how you execute your open enrollment process this year.
3+ Months Prior to Your Open Enrollment Deadline
- Survey various levels of your organization. Given that benefits are playing a very significant role in attracting and retaining talent, you may want to find out how satisfied employees are with your current healthcare options. Include questions that can probe for overall satisfaction with your offerings, carriers, and provider networks.
- Analyze survey results and decide on an action plan for addressing feedback.
- Collect and compare benefits data from similar companies in your industry. Gauge your own company’s performance and look for potential opportunities to enhance your program.
- Figure out how many employees are eligible for your benefits.
- Coordinate or work with your TPA to manage COBRA requirements for employees who experienced a qualifying event (e.g., job termination) during the year.
- Communicate key dates for open enrollment with insurers and benefit providers so they can share information on their programs that you may need to pass on to your employees. Also, notify internal stakeholders, like payroll staff or finance department so they have ample time to prepare for their role in the process as well.
2+ Months Prior
- Evaluate health plans and renewal packages. Meet with your broker to review usage rates for current plans and discuss any new benefits you may want to offer such as telemedicine, fertility, FSA, and wellness programs. Compare details and pricing from your current carrier and other carriers on the market.
- Review current HIPAA, ACA, and other regulations so you can understand how any changes may impact benefit offerings to your employees.
- Make 2024 benefits selections for your program.
2 Months Prior
- Work with your team to review the options prepared by you and your benefits broker and finalize selections. See what type of information and decision-making tools (e.g., info booklets, calculators, etc.) your broker can provide that can help employees during open enrollment.
- Assign a main point of contact to handle any and all employee benefits questions during open enrollment.
- Inform employees when your 2024 open enrollment period will begin. Include key dates for major activities they won’t want to miss, such as virtual events and onsite meetings.
1+ Month Prior (approx.)
- Roll out an official employee communications program announcing the open enrollment period for 2024 benefits and share details. Use a variety of distribution channels, including emails, intranet, Teams, or Zoom to reach all employees. As part of this effort:
- Update the corporate calendar with important dates, events, and deadlines
- Summarize changes to your existing plan options and update pricing
- Announce any new offerings or programs
- Remind employees that any life changes and health needs, such as major medical procedures, and dental work are variables they should consider when picking benefits
- Provide descriptions and materials for plan options
- Schedule temporary employees to help with the added workload during open enrollment period.
1 Month Prior
- Begin sign up. Monitor activity with employees to ensure they elect or decline benefits before the deadline.
- Communicate with employees about support hours, points of contact, and shared resources for getting answers to questions throughout the entire period.
- Remind employees of due dates so they don’t forget to enroll.
- Verify individual benefit selections, check for errors, and reach out to employees for corrections prior to submitting final forms.
2-3 Weeks Prior
- Submit approved selections along with the group application to benefit providers and health insurers.
- Address any issues from your broker or benefits providers.
- Follow up until everything is approved.
Managing your benefits strategy is pivotal in attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive hiring market. Working with a trusted benefits team can help you build the right program of offerings that differentiates you from the competition. BKS Partners is here to provide the ongoing support and expert guidance you need to prepare for open enrollment and help build a benefits strategy that aligns with your company’s culture and overarching goals.
Connect with our team to learn about how we can help you execute the right employee benefits strategy, before, within, and beyond open enrollment season.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.