Open enrollment is the only time of the year when employees can sign up for their employer-sponsored benefit options, drop their existing plans or make changes to their current coverage, unless a qualifying event triggers a special enrollment period during a separate time of the year. Employer-sponsored benefit options include— at a minimum— health insurance, but they may also include other benefits as ancillary or voluntary choices, such as vision, dental, disability, life and even pet insurance! Open enrollment generally runs for two to six weeks, and typically takes place close to the end of the year, with all plans becoming effective on January 1st of the following year.
Qualifying events may include changes in marital status, having or adopting a child, moving to a different zip code, changes in income, changes in citizenship status, losing or gaining health insurance, and more. A full list of qualifying events that may prompt special employment periods may be found at www.healthcare.gov. Special open enrollment periods typically run for up to 60 days, with coverage becoming effective a few weeks after the special enrollment has been completed.
Employees only have a short window to make important benefits decisions for themselves and their dependents— choices that will impact their care for an entire year. Additionally, employers and their benefits providers typically have an even shorter window to process all enrollments for their effective date of January 1st of the coming year. Therefore, it is critical that both employers and employees prepare in advance for open enrollment.
Tips for employers to consider for open enrollment preparation:
Tips for employees to consider for open enrollment preparation:
Open enrollment does not necessarily have to be a stressful time for employers or employees. If adequate preparation occurs in advance from all parties, these few weeks can certainly go by smoothly and free of frustration!
Contact us to help you administering your benefits and open enrollment.
Toni Curling, M.Ed., SHRM-CP
Client Service Manager