Active vs. Passive Open Enrollment: Did You Take the Right Path?

Active vs. Passive Enrollment: Did You Take the Right Path?

It's the ultimate debate when it comes to open enrollment: should you compel employees to elect benefits with an active enrollment or let them (and your team) take the easy way out with passive enrollment? Another way to look at it might be whether you want to risk having employees forget to make their elections during the active enrollment period, or count on them to make any necessary changes during that passive enrollment window. It can be a toss-up for some employers, and the decision we hear from our customers depends heavily on the changes to their benefit packages and any participation goals they may have for the upcoming year. 

Best of Both Worlds

A hybrid approach can be a great alternative, where employees are automatically re-enrolled in certain benefits but required to make elections for other options, such as a new voluntary benefit. Or maybe there's a new medical option that administrators want employees to evaluate before making an election, but their voluntary benefits remain the same. It's also worth noting that contribution elections to HSAs and FSAs do not carry over, so part of open enrollment will always be active for employees who want to continue to fund these accounts in the following year. 

Regardless of the open enrollment strategy you take, your success (and the success of your employees) hinges on your ability to educate and engage employees in their benefit decisions. Here are a few email examples and tips you can use to make sure they know what's coming and what's expected of them in advance of open enrollment:

Example Communication for Active Enrollment

You're forcing employees to take action during active enrollment, so your pre-enrollment communication should prepare them for the decisions they'll be making and remind them about the consequences of failing to make those decisions on time:

Attention-Grabbing Subject Line: Don't get stuck paying big medical bills

Just like your cellular data plan, there are no rollovers when it comes to your benefits, so be sure to mark your calendar for 20XX Open Enrollment on <INSERT ENROLLMENT DATES>!

Don't miss your opportunity to compare plans and take advantage of everything we're offering this year:

  • Choose from four medical plans, including two HDHP options.
  • Get $500 from us to put into your HSA when you enroll in an HDHP.
  • Explore new offerings including telehealth and financial wellness benefits.
  • And more!

Sign in to review all the changes today and be prepared to make your elections on <INSERT ENROLLMENT START DATE>!

Example Communication for Passive Enrollment

Employees may not have to sign in to be enrolled in your health plan, but you should encourage them to evaluate whether their current health plan is the best fit for their expected health status in the coming year. 

Attention-Grabbing Subject Line: How much is your health plan costing you?

Just like you may adjust your data on your cellular plan, you may need to adjust your health plan to match your health care needs. A lot can change in a year, so we recommend taking a minute to review your current coverage and what it's costing you.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to evaluate whether or not you need to make a change during this year's open enrollment on <INSERT OE DATES>.

  • How often did you visit the doctor or fill prescriptions?
  • Could you afford to pay the deductible in the event of an emergency?
  • Are you expecting any life events that might change your health care needs?

Before you stick with the same plan, take a look at the new offerings this year<LINK TO EMPLOYEE PORTAL> and be prepared to make any changes on <INSERT ENROLLMENT START DATE>!

Example Communication for Hybrid Active/Passive Enrollment

A hybrid approach gives you the opportunity to reinforce your value proposition as an employer by highlighting new benefit options that are gaining popularity with today's workforce, including telehealth and financial wellness.

Attention-Grabbing Subject Line: Coming soon - new benefit options

What do your smartphone and your benefits have in common? There's a variety of options, and you get to pick which ones fit your lifestyle!

This year, <INSERT YOUR COMPANY NAME> is excited to introduce new voluntary benefits that can provide you with cost-effective options to cover you when life happens.


Sign in to review the details for these new benefits today and be prepared to make your elections on <INSERT ENROLLMENT START DATE>!

Get more ideas for simplifying open enrollment for you and your employees -  watch the on-demand webinar 5 Things to Save You Time This Open Enrollment.