September 5, 2023

Employers, Are You Ready for Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is right around the corner, and unfortunately for most U.S. adults, this can bring about a level of anxiety that rivals the process of moving to a new home or starting a new job. But does open enrollment need to be an annual headache? Certainly not. It’s important for employers to streamline the process for everyone involved—and that starts with making sure employees understand their available options and educating them about how they can get the most value for their health benefits.

A 2022 Health Insurance Knowledge Snapshot commissioned by Justworks and conducted by Harris Poll found that more than half of U.S. adults don’t feel they’re getting the most out of their health insurance, and similarly, more than half don’t know the full scope of what their current health insurance offers them. As employers, it’s important to help employees understand the full scope of their benefits, and what better time to do this than open enrollment? We’ve come up with a few ways to help facilitate this process and communicate benefits information more effectively.

  1. Use open enrollment as a time to engage in meaningful interactions with employees. The Health Insurance Knowledge Snapshot survey found that an estimated 44 percent of employed U.S. adults say they don’t feel comfortable asking their HR representatives questions about health insurance enrollment. Open enrollment shouldn’t be just a process that is necessary every year; it can be an opportunity to provide your employees with additional information about your company and solicit helpful feedback along the way. Try incorporating useful information in your employee packets that will encourage employees to provide suggestions and feel comfortable asking general questions about their benefits, your organization and available resources. Improving lines of communication between employer and employee can lead to increased employee satisfaction, improved retention and even enhanced productivity.
  2. According to a national survey from financial service provider Primerica earlier this year, rising health care costs have become a top concern among middle-income American households for the first time since 2021, outpacing inflation. Without minimizing these concerns, focus on showing employees the value of their benefits. You may want to consider including a breakdown of what benefits really cost you as an employer versus the smaller percentage paid by the employee. Providing this type of transparency can help employees view your organization more favorably.
  3. When it comes to health insurance, different stages in life call for different ways to approach how employees select their benefits. As employees enter different phases in their lives, a plan that might have worked for them in their 20s may not necessarily be a plan that would work for them in their 30s or 40s. During the enrollment process, consider providing some information about what types of benefits might work best for different stages of your employees’ lives, and give examples. You can compare benefit plans for young singles, couples with children, couples with no children as well as employees who are nearing their retirement. Employees will also need to assess other factors, including lifestyle and existing medical history. It’s important to remind them that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that can be applied to health benefits.
  4. Lastly, it’s important to offer continued support to your employees throughout the year. Make sure to consistently share, update and distribute benefits information year-round and not just during the open enrollment or onboarding process. Simple reminders can go a long way; consider sending out communications materials that highlight the benefits of getting an influenza shot during peak flu season, where they can go to get their vaccinations and ways, they can keep themselves as healthy as possible to prevent health-related complications. Take advantage of all communications channels available to you, such as company newsletters, office bulletin boards, social media, emails, direct mail stuffers and in-person meetings.

WGAT is more than just a health plan. We’re committed to building relationships with employers and establishing trust with our plan participants, and that includes on-site support and health benefits education. If you’re interested in a WGAT plan, contact Western Growers Insurance Services for more information at (800) 333-4WGA.