It is not easy to educate and communicate with employees about the benefits offered by their employer and broker(s) before the “Enrollment Period”. The Employer and Broker must collaborate to make the Benefit Plan Design, the Programs, and/or Services clear and understandable for the employees and their families. Effective “Group Meetings”, including preparation and follow-up, can have many outcomes.
- The Plan Design’s Success or Failure
- Effective use of time by HR, managers and employees.
- The Efficiency of the Enrollment Process – One-on-One or via the Internet, Call Center, Paper Application Distribution, or a combination.
- Proper utilization of the employer’s “Invested benefit Dollars”.
- For the Providers and Carriers of Plans, Programs and Services, Successful Penetration and Persistency.
- Communicate important messages to reduce insurance and health care costs.
- Reduced number of changes after enrollment
- Proper utilization of Employees’ and Family’s “Invested benefit Dollars”
- Respect the Regulations
- Motivation and employee satisfaction
- The ability to retain and hire new employees.
These TIPS can be used to help you plan, prepare, schedule, hold, and follow-up on Group Meetings if they are possible. To avoid misunderstanding and claims of discrimination, the Group Meetings must be mandatory!
Prior Communications – Setting up the “Value Proposition”.
A) Employee communication should last for a year. Employees use the Healthcare System and Benefit Plans on a daily basis. Armed with information, employees and their families can be better consumers. The internet offers a wealth of information that is free and can save you money.
B) Managers can be the Conduit. At least 45 days before the Group Meetings, introduce the Managers and explain the Plan Design to them. Managers should be aware of the time and location of the Group Meetings, how to enroll, when the enrollment period will end, and the importance for employee participation. Begin to coach managers to discuss the plans, programs, and services that will be offered after the distribution of the “Employee benefit packages” (#6 below). Ask for their help!
C) Distribute “Employee benefit packages” – 10 business days before the Group Meeting(s), distribute “Benefit packages” to all eligible employees. The following should be included in packages:
1) Language Specific Materials (As readily available and affordably).
2) Introduction Letter from the Management: Owner/President, CFO, HR.
3) The dates and times for the Group Meetings are as specific as possible.
4) Explain the “Enrollment process” and include Family Involvement (if necessary), Method(s), for Enrolling, Timing for the Enrollment, Timing for the 1st Deductions. When will the Plans take effect?
5) Explanation on the Plan Design and Cost Sharing (if applicable).
6) Brochures provided by each Carrier and Provider of Plans, Programs and/or Services.
7) Pricing Sheet for each plan, program and/or service – Individual and family (if applicable)
8) An explanation of “Cost Sharing” and who pays for different Plans, Programs and/or services. Defined Contribution (DC), HRAs and HSAs are required for reimbursement accounts. Make sure you are specific about dollar limits and contributions!
9) Make a Check List of all the Programs, Services, and Plans in which they or their family are interested. These documents should be kept with employees to be used during group meetings and the “Enrollment Period”. This will help to focus on the needs of the employee and their family.
10) Receipt Of Package – With a convenient way to collect. To ensure that all employees are eligible for the information, it is important to keep track of receipts and avoid discrimination claims.
D) Reminders- Using all media, remind notices about the Group Meetings should be posted. Notices should be posted by department managers several days before the meetings. Encourage employees to bring their “Benefits Packages”. They were given notepads and pens for taking notes.
Stage the Group Meeting(s).
The Employee Benefits Group Meetings must be considered a “Special Event”. The Broker(s), the Employer, the Carriers and Providers of Plans, Programs, and Services, as well as the Employees, have to make time and money. The goal should be to give the Employers and employees the best return on their Invested benefit Dollars. Here are some helpful tips!
1) Meetings should always be mandatory
2) Meetings should take place during employees’ working hours, not during breaks or meals.
Employees on vacation or leave should have accommodation. An alternative communication channel should be set up for employees who live in remote areas and are unable to attend meetings.
Note paper and pencils should be available to employees for note taking.
5) Employee questions should not be asked after the meeting ends.
6) The owner, executive, or HR manager should moderate the meeting.
7) The CFO/Finance person should speak to the employees about the plan design and the reasons for “Cost Sharing”, Consumer-Driven Plans, etc. (if applicable).
8) Type of enrollment, ie. The Employees should be informed about whether the enrollment is one-on-one, internet-based, call center, paper, or a combination.
9) You should explain the dates and times for enrollment.
10) Employees must make it clear that the Final Date for submitting their Benefit Choice Selections or Changes to their Family should be noted with “Reminders” placed around the workplace.
11) Each Carrier/Provider should be allowed a short time to highlight – and not sell – their Plan/Program or Service. With a large number of benefits, this may not be possible.
12) Each employee should have additional “Benefit packages” and “Check list” in addition to the one that was provided, if necessary.
13) In preparation for Enrollment, request that employees review their “Benefit Packs” and complete the Check List. This will indicate their and their family members’ interest in particular Plans, Programs, and/or Services.
14) Ask employees for help with a good enrollment and in creating the best benefit plan.
15) After the meeting, a brief Question and Answer Period should take place. Employees should feel encouraged to take notes of their questions and have them answered in a memo, newsletter, or other media.
16) A meeting should not last more than one hour – If possible!
Follow-up on the Group Meetings for Preparation of Enrollment
- We thank all Managers for their assistance and remind them about their Responsibilities towards a Successful Entry.
- We thank all employees who attended the Group Meetings to solicit their feedback.
- Return to all Questions that employees submitted after or at the Group Meetings.
- Reminders to Employees about Enrollment Dates and Procedures
If Group Meetings on Employee Benefits can be organized and planned well, they can be very effective in educating the employees and their families about the Plan Design, the Programs, and/or Services available to them. These Group Meetings can be a great way to increase employee morale, loyalty, and productivity. Well-explained Benefit Plans can help you retain employees and attract new hires.