OPEN ENROLLMENT can be a stressful experience if you don’t plan ahead. The stakes for pulling off a successful enrollment push are even higher now amid the changing landscape that’s been brought on by the Affordable Care Act.
With all of the new requirements, including minimum levels of coverage, employers are also gravitating towards products that ensure they comply with the ACA and that are affordable for both themselves and their employees.
Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, recommends that employers follow these suggestions for a successful open enrollment:
Consider CDHPs – Consumer-driven health plans are gaining in use thanks to their general lower cost and the fact that they give employees more control over their health care. In 2013, 39% of large employers offered at least one CDHP and 64% say they will likely offer one by 2016, according to Mercer.
The consulting firm says CDHPs can be used to:
• Reinforce individual accountability for health care decisions;
• Reduce costs for employers, and often for employees;
• Meet the ACA-mandated affordable coverage requirement;
• Help avoid the 2018 excise tax; and
• Provide a compliant auto-enrollment default selection.
Communication is key – If you have newly eligible employees, you should “start communicating right away with this population as to who is eligible, why they are eligible, how eligibility is determined, what this means and what they have to now consider,” Mercer says.
Besides the enrollment information you’ve put together for your other already-eligible staff, you will need to also have information on how employees who are not eligible for your health coverage can access public exchanges to secure coverage.
Stress voluntary benefits – Voluntary benefits can be “used to overcome [misconceptions] and confusion around other benefit offerings,” Mercer says. It adds that these benefits “help assuage fears of potentially high out-of-pocket expenses.”
Voluntary benefits include critical illness and accident coverage, dental and vision insurance, life and disability. These should be made known to your employees as they may have needs you are unaware of.
Don’t forget wellness plans – During open enrollment you should also ensure that your employees understand the value of participating in any wellness programs that you offer. And if you don’t offer any, you ought to as they can improve the overall health of your workforce and also help reduce health premiums.
And, starting next year, employers will be permitted to apply higher premiums to individuals that don’t participate in health screenings and other types of wellness programs. Under the ACA, the discount can now be up to 30%, and may even reach 50% under some circumstances.
Use technology to help your staff – As more companies direct their employees into CDHPs, requiring them to be more accountable for their health care decisions, they can help by providing the appropriate tools. This includes software and mobile apps to help guide them through decision-making processes when considering how to best utilize the health care available to them through their plans.
Some plans offer digital wallet cards that contain all benefit and contact information in one place for quick access to answers or advice.
Additionally, some health insurers now offer their own apps for enrollees that help them with advice and lists of doctors in their area.