Employers Talk Open Enrollment Trends

Open Enrollment is already the busiest time of year for most HR professionals, and it's not getting any easier. Legislation and economic pressures dictate plan design changes, new administrative processes and greater emphasis on employee education and responsibility. No wonder a new study shows that many employers are in favor of a passive Open Enrollment over an active one. Passive enrollment allows employees to roll over their benefits from the previous year, without requiring them to assess their plan options or learn more about their benefits. Active enrollment requires employees to choose an enrollment plan, regardless of their coverage from the previous year.

But while on the surface a passive enrollment might seem like the easier choice, it is also a risky one. Passive enollment could lead to higher costs if employees don't select plans that fit their changing needs and don't understand how to use their benefits correctly. Employee review has been especially important since the passage of healthcare reform, as employers and insurance carriers make changes to stay in compliance with the new law.

A few other findings from the study include:

  • Open Enrollment takes time – a lot of it.
    • 97 percent of HR professionals surveyed said that Open Enrollment takes up about 50 percent of their time.
  • Companies are planning ahead.
    • Employers with more than 5,000 employees say they plan for Open Enrollment anywhere from 8 to 11 months in advance. 
  • Communication is key.
    • 65 percent of participating employers use multiple methods to reach their employees, and many are incorporating their own branding on their enrollment materials.