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7 tips for simplifying your open enrollment

Top tips for streamlining your open enrollment—without oversimplifying.

Annual enrollment should be straightforward, but it can act as a setback to your enrollment goals in more ways than one. How do you create an effective and efficient process for your employees without oversimplifying or jeopardizing your strategy?  

Our team identified seven key tactics to simplify the enrollment experience for your people and meet your organization’s strategic goals. 

#1 Align your strategy

Setting tangible goals for enrollment is vital, but if they don’t align with your enrollment tactics and strategy, your results may be ineffective. For example, if your goal is to encourage participation in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) but the HDHP is not competitively priced, your strategy is not aligned with your goal, and results may be unsuccessful. The same can be said about providing differentiation between plans.  

If you aim to increase participation in specific plans but fail to provide details to distinguish key components (deductibles, co-pays, etc.), employees may not know the difference and choose an unsuitable plan. In such cases, you must provide differentiation between plans or leverage technology to help employees see the distinctions for their needs. 

Think about your measurable goals for your upcoming enrollment and consider the strategy you will implement to execute them.  

  • What are you are trying to accomplish?  

  • Are your execution strategies aligned?  

  • How will they support your overall enrollment goals?  

Aligning your goals with your strategy will set you up for success.

83%

of employees with a health plan guidance tool find it valuable.

#2 Make it personal

Communication during enrollment is critical, and employees respond more positively to messages that personally target them. You want your people to know that there are multiple options catered to what they need and want in a plan, and you need to communicate it clearly through the proper channels.  

Does your employee have a new baby on the way? Is a family member going off to college? Find ways to personally reach your audience and let them know that there is a solution for every employee and their family.  

People like to feel special. As comfort with sharing information to inform personalized recommendations and guidance rises, put some personality behind your enrollment and see how it impacts your results.

#3 Strive for the right level of engagement

Hearing feedback from your employees around the enrollment process isn’t always negative. It’s better to know that your employees are actively taking control of the process rather than simply not participating.  

Chatter around your enrollment process can also be beneficial in bringing potential issues or concerns to light before the enrollment period is over. Encourage your employees to get comfortable asking the right questions and take action as soon as possible to benefit from those proactive decisions later.

No chatter at all may mean that your employees may be forgetting to take actions, such as re-enrolling for an HSA or ensuring their doctor is still in-network after a move or life event.

Create an experience for enrollment that replicates what users may encounter in everyday life, including:

  • Real-time updates
  • Instantaneous assistance
  • Expert insights
  • Convenient accessibility

#4 Only require meaningful action

The enrollment period is complicated. With so many plan options and ways to enroll, it’s easy to get distracted from what’s important and what’s not. Try to avoid preoccupying employees with questions that aren’t necessary for submittal, and if needed, make them as clear as possible.

If your employee has indicated that he or she is not a smoker for the past five enrollment questionnaires, is it necessary to ask again? 

To add to the simplicity, look at ways to automate enrollment. Can your forms be submitted online? Can you eliminate unnecessary paper copies or the need for a physical person to help answer the basic questions?  

Look for ways to simplify and automate the enrollment process where possible.

#5 Your people want suggestions

As the healthcare environment becomes more complex and more options are available, employees are looking for guidance during the enrollment process. Most employers have the tools and technology to turn those complexities into a more easily understood process, but many are hesitant to provide guidance as they fear the legalities behind it. While some legal considerations do need to be addressed, there are acceptable ways to provide suggestions and guidance without providing concrete instruction during the decision-making process.

1/3

of employees do not know where to find information on benefits, pay and human resources topics.

When offered medical benefit suggestions, 28% of employees change their medical option—compared to only 16% who do not have suggestions. Likewise, employees who are given health savings account (HSA) contribution suggestions are twice as likely to start contributing to an HSA account for the first time than those without guidance. 

Employers can use objective data to provide suggestions in forms that do not directly offer instruction, such as:

  • Providing cost modelers
  • Offering plan comparisons
  • Creating “people like me” scenarios to identify similar situations

Employers see much more success when they proactively provide their people with general assistance during enrollment, like smarter healthcare plan choices that are more aligned with individual or family-specific needs.  

#6 Treat enrollment as the kick-off for the year

How many times have you prepared yourself for a large project and found that you took too much of an exhale afterward, causing you to get behind on your next steps or set of projects? 

Annual enrollment is a huge feat for many organizations, but it can’t be seen as the only feat. Once enrollment has ended, there are additional tasks to prep for and execute, such as delivering participant plans to vendors and opening new HSA accounts. 

Treating those few weeks as the only two weeks of your year distracts you from proactively planning for the future you may miss out on opportunities to build the foundation for next year’s success.

Annual enrollment isn't just a two-week project to tackle.

#7 Plan for the unexpected

Contingency planning is one of the most vital pieces of annual enrollment. Unexpected mishaps always present themselves, whether it be a natural disaster, a system failure or a problem with call center staffing. It’s critical to take a look at your resources and ensure you have a dependable, collaborative partner to work with should the unexpected occur.  

  • Do you understand your partner’s coverage should you have to rely on them for support? 

  • Is your staffing flexible and in the right locations to guarantee business continuity?  

  • Can training be provided quickly, on-demand, and virtually, if needed?  

Working with a partner to develop a plan and being prepared to execute it is the most efficient route to follow when prepping for a seamless enrollment.  

Because sometimes things get messy. Your annual enrollment shouldn’t.

It's not a matter of if something is going to happen, but when.

It’s time to simplify

Following these tips won’t guarantee a perfect enrollment, but it will simplify the process and promote a stress-free experience for you and your employees. Finding the right partner with the knowledge and breadth of solutions to simplify your enrollment journey is the first step.  

At Alight, we streamline your administration so employees can get more from their benefits to make smarter decisions for their health. With our experience and expertise, you can finally take care of your people and your spend. We support over 13,000 different health plan designs, with 12 million people using our platform. By continuously analyzing employee behavior, we connect them to your programs more reliably while ensuring you both save. 

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