Are you ready for open enrollment?

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Key takeaways

Approach open enrollment with incremental steps to make sure you’re prepared for this important season for your business and workforce. 

As companies prepare for open enrollment season, Human Resources professionals should communicate properly with employees and explain the value of their benefits offerings.

Not sure you’ve done everything you could to turn this annual necessity into a positive, educational game-changer? No problem.

Use this complimentary checklist as a guide to ensure you’ve covered your bases as you approach deadlines for your virtual, in-person, or telephonic open enrollment.

100+ days before open enrollment

Conduct post-mortem meetings with the enrollment team (along with key internal and external stakeholders) to assess what went well (or didn’t) from your last open enrollment.

Identify the most time-consuming tasks and discuss how they could be streamlined.

Determine what questions employees asked the most about last year — and be prepared to answer them again this year.

Consider whether the company achieved its overall open enrollment goals and what contributed to those results.

Make sure your team is aligned and focused on goals for the 2024 plan year, with the help of these questions:

— Are you and your employees happy with the current carrier and their provider network?

— Are you and your employees happy with the customer service they’re receiving from your carrier and TPA?

— Are you and your employees satisfied with your existing benefits structure?

80-90 days before open enrollment

Create a plan and establish goals for open enrollment.

Determine if you will conduct an active enrollment supported by 1:1 meetings with benefits educators, or allow employees to roll over existing elections.

Decide if you need a new interactive decision support tool.

Update your Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs).

60-80 days before open enrollment

Develop broad-reaching communications strategy to keep employees informed about their plan options at enrollment and throughout the year.

— Clearly explain there is “no one-size-fits-all plan” and that the least expensive plan on paper may not, ultimately, be the most cost-effective plan over time.

— Coordinate educational resources, including 1:1 benefits educators, healthcare glossary, interactive open enrollment guides, etc., to help your employees understand the nuances of each plan and how best to use them.

Consider developing materials targeted to differing priorities (planning for retirement vs. starting a family vs. paying off student debt), levels of education and healthcare literacy, and experience with choosing and using benefits.

40-50 days before open enrollment

Prepare for open enrollment.

— Update company calendar with important open enrollment dates and deadlines.

— Work with your broker or consultant to create and distribute benefits guides and compliance materials like Summary of Benefits and Coverage, legal notices brochures and/or Summary Plan Descriptions.

Begin promoting new perks or programs (i.e., telehealth, fertility support, mental health programs, new voluntary benefits, etc.).

30-45 days before open enrollment

Send reminders to staff that enrollment is starting.

0-30 days before enrollment

Distribution communications materials using multiple channels reach employees where they are—and that they proactively elect or decline coverage (do not distribute more than 30 days before the enrollment window opens—it will get lost or tossed)

Schedule enrollment meetings (if applicable).

Launch virtual benefits materials/event.

Send reminders on enrollment deadlines.

Enrollment period

Employees make their selections (ideally during 1:1 meetings).

Remind employees of window for election corrections.

Send reminders to employees who have not yet enrolled.

Post open enrollment

Distribute year-round communications materials to explain how best to use the benefits they’ve chosen.

Provide year-round support through advocates who help employees to seek second opinions, shop for the lowest cost procedures, and resolve billing issues.

Take a deep breath and celebrate a successful open enrollment!

Download the checklist here.