National Annual Open Enrollment this year will run November 15th, 2017 to December 15th, 2017. At this time employers are not able to enroll in a health plan without participation or contribution requirements. Though many employers experience Open Enrollment throughout the year the month prior to their annual renewal date.  It’s important to start planning now!

For many employers, Open Enrollment is one of the most highly anticipated, and most nerve racking, times of the year. Employees rely heavily on their benefit options through their employers, so it’s essential to go into the season well prepared.

Below you will find some important things to keep in mind when planning for Open Enrollment.

Who are the eligible employees?

The first step in preparing for Open Enrollment is to prepare an updated census of all eligible employees.

Insurers will require an updated census in order to provide employers with a rate quote.

For each employee, the census should include:

  • Name
  • Age or date of birth
  • Number of dependents
  • Age or date of birth of dependents
  • Zip code

What is your budget?

Once you know who your eligible employees are, the next step is to identify your budget.

It is essential to know what percentage of benefits costs employers are responsible for, and what costs employees are paying for.

Group rates for 2018 will be available on October 2nd, which will determine your benefit costs for 2018. The industry is expecting market stability for 2018 and a parity in rates and plan offerings across insurance carriers.

What do your employees want or need?

The most important thing to do before open enrollment is to talk with your employees.

Conduct a survey to see where employees get lost or confused when it comes to employee benefits. Ask them about their open enrollment experience last year. Did they understand their options? What made actually enrolling in benefits tricky?

Set up meetings, seminars, webinars and presentations that engage and educate the. Bring in healthcare experts to provide a deeper, more thorough presentation. Hold benefits fairs and similar events to involve everyone.

Now is also the time to begin thinking about what new benefits you want to offer to your employees.

Would employees be interested in popular new options? Were similar plans offered last year? If so, how interested were employees? What were they prone to choose?

Use this information to predict the success of other benefits, like wellness plans.

So, plan early and often.  At the end of the day, it is all about open communication and providing the tools an employee needs to make the most informed choices.

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