Tackle Open Enrollment Like a Pro

08/22/18 | 9:00AM | Posted by TEAM Software

Open Enrollment Part One

A Yearly Insurance Benefits Refresher

Open enrollment season can be overwhelming for even the most experienced HR and benefits professionals. Even if you’ve gone through it multiple times, there are always new tools to incorporate, new deadlines to pay attention to and new regulations to follow. Regardless of yearly changes or when your plan year begins, there’s always a general sequence of best practices to follow, so we’ve put together a timeline to help you ensure a successful open enrollment season.

Three to Five Months Prior to Plan Year

This is the time to do the prep work so that your enrollment process can run as smoothly as possible. Assessing both historical data and future goals is critical to remain cost efficient and competitive in the job market.

  • Prepare for reporting requirements and ensure you’re adhering to Affordable Care Act compliance.
    • If you use software like WinTeam — TEAM’s core financial, operations and workforce management solution — to help manage your insurance benefits, this process is simplified because you have tools designed specifically to help you comply with ACA.
  • Assess your benefit offerings.
    • Can you adjust your benefits to be more cost-efficient? If the type of benefits you’re offering aren’t adding value for your employees, consider dropping them and finding more value-added options.
    • Are your benefits helping you stay competitive in the industry to recruit and retain top talent? In a tight job market, you need to find a benefits package that appeals to the type of employees you’re looking to recruit.
    • Does offering insurance benefits make sense for your company? If offering insurance benefits is cost-prohibitive and is not delivering the return on investment you need, consider reevaluating your programs.
  • Ensure you’re meeting compliance requirements.
    • Have you offered benefits to all newly hired employees who are eligible?
    • Have you identified employees who have status changes that impact their eligibility or benefit contribution?
    • Were there contract changes that impact your benefits?

One to Three Months Prior to Plan Year

You’ve laid the groundwork and now you must finalize details like pricing and eligibility. Determining eligibility can be challenging for companies with distributed workforces like building service and security contractors who have a large number of part-time employees combined with high turnover, frequent status changes and seasonal workers, so it’s important to allow enough time for this process. Using workforce management software can save time and prevent critical and costly mistakes.

  • Determine and set up your benefits and pricing structure.
    • Review the individual benefits that are offered to employees as well as the plan options and pricing rules for each benefit.
    • Review any changes to carrier or employee monthly costs for accuracy.
  • Verify eligibility
    • Verify all eligible employees are set up correctly and have accurate information in your system.
  • Test for accuracy
    • Testing your system before enrollment begins helps validate your work and prevent errors during the enrollment period.

One Month Prior to Open Enrollment Period

There’s really no such thing as overcommunicating when it comes to talking to your employees about open enrollment. Communication is especially critical for businesses with distributed workforces like building service and security contractors. You can’t rely on standard communication channels when your employees don’t all report to the same location each day.

  • Add messaging with critical open enrollment dates to pay stubs.
  • Send messages or app push notifications through a workforce management app or try SMS text messages to company devices with dates and key pieces of information.
  • Create site- or employee-targeted messages on your time and attendance solution so hourly employees see them when they clock in or out. TeamTime, TEAM’s time and attendance product, has this functionality built in.

Open Enrollment Period

It’s go time. Open enrollment is here, and you should give your employees 10-15 days to make their new benefit selections or waive coverage. While an online solution to automate and simplify this process is ideal, no matter how you distribute the information, it’s vital to track the offerings and selections or waivers through a clear audit trail for all eligible employees to maintain ACA compliance.

  • Communicate throughout the open enrollment period to remind employees of the deadline to make selections.
  • Remind employees that they must decline benefits if they are not enrolling in company-offered plans.

TEAM is committed to helping our clients navigate the Affordable Care Act and other employee-related legislation through timely news and software updates. For more information on our insurance benefits management solution, click here.

For additional information, read part two of this series: Four Tips to Simplifying Open Enrollment.