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ACA Compliance

Open Enrollment: A Checklist for More Success, Less Pain

Few events can be more challenging, if not outright more harrowing for Benefit and Human Resources administrators than Open Enrollment.
To help save time and anguish for you and your staff, you may want to consider making this checklist a part of your strategic approach for the upcoming Open Enrollment season.
1. Review and Evaluate Last Year’s Open Enrollment
So what worked well last year and what didn’t? Companies can improve every renewal season by building on what worked and knowing where the organization can improve in the open enrollment process.
2. Analyze, Compare and Document Benefits
How do this year’s benefits compare to last year’s benefits? Use a one-page information sheet that outlines the differences in short, but accurate bullets defining key terms and publicizing contact names and numbers, important websites and details of all information needed to complete enrollment.
3. Anticipate Employee Questions
What are the most frequently asked questions about benefits and what new questions may be asked based on any benefit changes or updates for this year? Anticipating employee questions will give your business or organization a “leg up” on how to assist employees and ensures answers are consistent, regardless of who is answering the questions.
4. Brief all HR and Benefits Staff Members
Is your staff fully aware of the insurance offer details for this year versus last year? Providing this informational support will assist employees with questions. The most common frustrations for employees are the constant change in plans and choices, benefit materials that are confusing, open enrollment seeming like a rushed process, and benefits personnel who are uninformed or unable to help.  Curb these frustrations with staff who are knowledgeable and ready to assist.
5. Communicate, Communicate and Communicate!
Do you use various methods of communications or send a single message via email regarding Open Enrollment? Delivery of insurance materials to employees can occur through a number of available channels in addition to online portals maintained by the employer or the insurance carrier. Consider new options like Text2Engage (mobile messaging) and social media to provide reminders and support.  Technology is the latest and greatest, but don’t overlook more inexpensive—and effective—methods to prepare and engage employees like putting notices in paycheck envelopes, posting one-page reminders in employee break areas, and making videos available via YouTube or Facebook or monitors in offices and cafeterias. Organizations that have a multimedia approach to communicating with their employees are typically the most successful.
6. Identify and Notify All Qualified Employees
In addition to full-time and full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), who else in your organization qualifies for a health insurance offer? Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) must track all part-time and variable-hour workers to determine if any of those employees qualify for health insurance offers in accordance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Ensure data from monthly snapshots of actual hours worked for each month of the measurement period has been carefully monitored so that at the end of each measurement period, all part-time and variable-hour workers who qualify for health insurance are identified and their health insurance offer is documented. See related article “Open Enrollment Strategies That Can Help Ensure ACA Compliance.”
7. Solicit Feedback for Next Year
Want to be ahead of the game for next year’s Open Enrollment? Take time to step back and assess internally, how well it went AND start thinking about what can be done to improve next year. Create feedback opportunities:

  • Ask your team.
    Schedule a “debrief session” for all Benefit and HR staff immediately following open enrollment while the activity of the event is fresh in everyone’s mind. Ask “what did we do well and what can we do better for next year?”
  • Ask employees.
    Ask employees to complete a brief survey to collect their opinions on the open enrollment process. Keep the survey brief by asking open-ended questions or questions with a Likert scale, such as:
    • How do you feel about your understanding of our company’s benefits?
    • How aware of the benefits process are you?
    • How would you rate the effort required by you to sign up for benefits?


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