How Important is Open Enrollment Education?

Survey says…. Most employees don’t understand benefits very well! In a new report by the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, 80% of Americans believe they understand their benefits very well, but only about half demonstrate they do based upon what Guardian deems to be optimal benefits-related decisions. In fact, in a benefits coverage and terminology quiz, the average score was a 72, with 1 in 5 people receiving an “F” grade.

Most employees typically look at what they know – the generalities like premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. However, failure to do the proper research may leave employees exposed in the case of an emergency. Many times, options like GAP plans or HSA plans could work well for employees to help save, but they are not familiar with the coverage and become hesitant to participate.

These numbers found in the report are concerning because the lack of benefits understanding could be hurting employees in the long run, especially with healthcare costs continuing to rise. Educating employees thoroughly during the open enrollment process can help eliminate some of the major concerns regarding financial risk, and any complexities within certain plans.

Guardian’s study went on to find that only 47% of working Americans feel their employer is doing a good job educating them about how to use their benefits – a drop from 66% in 2014. So, what can you do to create a better open enrollment experience?

  • Provide ample time – Give your employees proper notice and reminders about any upcoming changes and when the open enrollment period will be. Allow for at least two weeks to give your employees plenty of time to review their options and ask questions where necessary.
  • Use friendly language – Insurance lingo can be confusing to people outside of the industry. Try to break down complex language into layman’s terms to give your employees the ability to fully understand each benefit. Explain any terminology to them they may not understand!
  • Provide expert guidance – Have an HR professional available to provide guidance to employees or answer any questions they may have, basic or complex. Everyone is different and guidance can change based on circumstances. If you do not have someone experienced on staff, contact your insurance broker who can provide you with advice and educational materials.
  • Introduce new benefits throughout the year – Consider explaining voluntary benefits throughout the year like life insurance, individual disability insurance, critical illness, or other supplemental health insurance. If given all this information at once, it could be more difficult for employees to grasp.

At Faison Group, we are always happy to help answer any open enrollment questions you may have and review your options for the upcoming year. We have educational material on nearly every benefit you can imagine and can provide these to you upon request!