While the fundamentals of Open Enrollment remain more or less the same yearly, the 2023 enrollment period raises a few new questions for employers and employees alike.
Pandemic-related issues continue to change safety guidelines across the country, with COVID subvariants like BA.5 and new threats like monkeypox making daily headlines.
Many business owners can be confused about changing CDC guidelines and alternating mandates. (Should Open Enrollment be in-person? Hybrid? Completely remote?) At the same time, the realities of living and working through a lengthy pandemic have employees seeking more health and financial security. As a result, they’re reconsidering which employment perks matter the most—specifically, those related to their physical and mental health, financial security, and work-life balance.
Open Enrollment provides an ideal opportunity for employers to shine a light on their benefits offerings. In addition, early preparation can help show employees they are valued—which could, in turn, maximize employee retention and satisfaction.
FIRST, A FEW BASICS
Typically, Open Enrollment is the only time period when employees (those working at a company with more than 50 people) can join or make changes to their health care coverage for the coming year. One exception to this rule is if they experience a life-changing qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period.
Events such as getting married or divorced, having or adopting children, or losing eligibility for other health coverage can trigger special enrollment rights. In some cases, they can also qualify for special enrollment if they become eligible for a premium assistance subsidy under Medicaid or a State Children’s Health Insurance Program. (For small businesses—those with between 1 and 50 employees—enrollment can occur at any time, either directly, through a broker, or through SHOP – the Small Business Health Options Program.)
In most states, the Open Enrollment period for 2023 health plans runs from November 1, 2022, to January 15, 2023. For plans selected before December 15, 2022, coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2023.
The right employee benefits can serve as powerful retention tools. That’s why it’s beneficial for employers to tailor benefits options to include perks employees care about—many of which have shifted in the wake of the pandemic. Arrangements like remote or hybrid work—situations that were born of necessity—are things many employees now expect to be permanent.
Surveys show that some of the top benefits employees currently seek include:
- Flexible schedules
- Hybrid work environments
- Mental health resources
- Comprehensive healthcare (including features such as workplace wellness plans)
- Childcare assistance
Since benefits play a significant role in attracting and retaining workers, employers should ask them which perks they find the most valuable. But they should also utilize the Open Enrollment period to highlight several frequently overlooked perks—everything from student loan repayment, to elder care, to pet insurance, and more.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Communications around benefits should demonstrate how the offerings are designed to protect employees. Since needs vary from person to person, it can be helpful to outline different benefit offerings to help employees identify which ones they’re most likely to need and use. When employees can choose benefits tailored to their specific needs, they’re more likely to feel both appreciated and appreciative—which reduces the likelihood that they’ll look elsewhere for job opportunities.
EARLY PREPARATION CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Preparing early for Open Enrollment can give employers the time to tailor their benefit offerings and educate their employees on the benefits’ value. At Health & Benefits Partners, we’re here to help you make the health care decisions that make the most sense for you and your team. Our tools and resources can help guide your choices, compare plans and benefits, and learn about any credits or subsidies for which you might qualify.
Reach out to one of our qualified specialists today and simplify your open enrollment process. We’re here when you need us.