How to Survive Open Enrollment
You just met with your Meltzer Rep and signed the renewal for next year’s insurance programs. What should you do now with your benefit plan changes going into effect in few months? Getting organized is the first step to a successful Open Enrollment.
Determine Your Communication Methods
Depending on your employee population and level of computer savvy, you may need to use multiple communication methods, such as emails, live presentations, Skype meetings, etc. to communicate the changes in the benefit programs and/or costs. The most important thing to remember throughout this process is you cannot overcommunicate this information.
Who Should Receive Notice?
While you are most likely thinking about all your current employees, please don’t forget you need to reach out to your COBRA participants and notify them of the changes in the benefit plans and plan costs. If you have a third party who is administering your COBRA benefits, you will need to meet with them to advise them of the changes in the benefit plans and their associated costs. You must also contact employees that are on FMLA or other Leaves of Absence to provide them with all of the benefit plan changes and associated costs. This will also apply if you have Retiree benefits. (I know, two more things to worry about on top of everything else going on!)
Open Enrollment is closed, so that means you are done until next year, right? Wrong!
What to Communicate
Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the new benefit plans, carriers, and associated questions. Ensure that there are ample supplies of printed materials as well as online resources to assist employees with their benefit changes. Most carriers have websites that can provide employees with resources such as finding a doctor, filing a claim, getting temporary or replacement insurance cards and other valuable information. Make sure that employees know how to access these carrier websites.
If you were previously using carrier feeds to notify your insurance providers with any updates or changes, you need to restart those weekly feeds. (Remember you turned those off during Open Enrollment.)
Reconcile your Insurance Invoices
You need to reconcile all of the employee’s changes with the different insurance bills you will be receiving. As each insurance bill arrives, check the employee listing against the revised employee elections that were made during Open Enrollment. Make sure that the employee is in the correct plan with the correct dependent coverage. If errors are identified, make appropriate changes with carriers and make notations on the bill. Follow the providers established rules regarding bill corrections. Review the HRIS program to determine if any information was entered wrong and therefore has been transmitted to the carrier wrong.
Review Payroll Deductions
Review employee deductions to ensure the proper plan deductions have been entered. If an under deduction has occurred, contact the employee to discuss how the additional deduction money will be withheld. Communicate this information in writing to the employee include the paycheck dates with the additional withholding as well as the amount of the proper deduction, send a copy to Payroll, and place a copy of the communication in the employee’s benefits file. If an over deduction has occurred, contact the employee and let him/her know the error. Communicate this information in writing providing the employee with the paycheck date in which the money will be returned and the proper deduction amount, send a copy to Payroll and place a copy of the communication in the employee’s benefits file.