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Open Enrollment FAQs: Addressing 8 Common Employee Concerns

Open enrollment can be intimidating without the right preparation. Questions around the process are already inevitable, but as more employees prioritize their well-being, nothing should be left to interpretation.

After all, open enrollment participation is on the rise. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a historically high 14.5 million people signed up for coverage during the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace open enrollment period for 2022. Higher turnout, of course, means more questions.

Considering recent challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise employees want to ensure they secure the right benefits for them and their families. An exceptional open enrollment process helps participants:

  • understand their selections
  • easily and confidently make choices
  • trust their employer

A frustrating open enrollment, however, fractures an employee’s experience. In a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, an overwhelming 92% of employees said benefits are important to their overall satisfaction, while 29% claimed benefits were the top reason to look for a position outside of their organization. In other words, benefits — and, by extension, open enrollment — are crucial for retention.

So how do you ensure your company’s open enrollment provides employees exactly what they need? There may be concerns you don’t expect, but knowing how to answer the most common ones will give your business an unquestionable advantage. Keep the following eight in mind as you guide employees through open enrollment.

1. What is open enrollment?

Open enrollment is the annual opportunity for employees to select or change their benefits for the upcoming calendar year. Their selections may include:

  • health care
  • dental, vision, life or pet insurance
  • a flexible spending account (FSA)
  • short and long-term disability
  • retirement plans

Although states have varying rules around open enrollment, the process’s purpose is the same nationwide.

2. How long does open enrollment last?

Federally, this year’s open enrollment season started Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 15, 2023. According to SHRM, most organizations host an open enrollment period of two to four weeks.

3. Can employees make changes to their health insurance outside of open enrollment?

Certain individuals can secure coverage outside of open enrollment if they qualify for a special enrollment period due to qualified life events like:

  • moving""
  • marriage
  • childbirth or adoption
  • a sudden loss of health care
  • an abrupt change in household income

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program also allow covered individuals to enroll outside of the typical period.

4. How is open enrollment changing for 2023 coverage?

With a constant flux of new providers, there’s always some change to open enrollment. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, a national nonprofit covering health issues, notable changes include:

  • relaxed eligibility requirements
  • an average 4% increase in premiums
  • year-round ACA marketplace enrollment for low-income households

Additionally, the health FSA contribution limit will rise from $2,850 to $3,050. Use HealthCare.gov’s estimator tool to find changes specific to your area.

5. How does my business prepare for open enrollment?

Open enrollment will vary based on an employee’s needs, especially if they acquired a dependent or experienced a significant change. If an individual has completed open enrollment before, it’s a good idea for them to review their previous selections.

The ACA health insurance marketplace offers a checklist to walk employees through any significant life events that may qualify them for special enrollment periods and more affordable plans. Even if an employee doesn’t have a significant change, slight shifts in their coverage may occur.

Communicate with your workforce frequently! The more time employees have to prepare for open enrollment, the better. Doing so could help your organization get the jump on more complicated questions.

Finally, stay on top of legislative changes, especially those related to benefits. New laws can fuel questions, and grasping them as they emerge will help expedite your business’s responses. Consider using a versatile compliance tool to help navigate the evolving regulatory landscape.

6. What documents or information will employees need when changing their benefits?

Supporting documentation will vary based on an individual’s needs.

For a change in dependents or family status — like for dependents who suddenly need coverage — employees should have the applicable:

  • birth certificate
  • adoption decree
  • divorce order
  • death certificate
  • marriage license

Those who have recently moved should bring evidence of their new address, like:

  • a state-issued ID
  • a voter registration card
  • a rental or lease agreement
  • mortgage or homeowners insurance documents

Some states may require additional items — such as vehicle registration, a passport or a utility bill — for other changes. In fact, your business may already collect some of these documents for taxes or other purposes. An easy-to-use self-service tool helps employees store and retrieve digital versions anytime, anywhere.

7. What if employees don’t want to change their benefits?

In most states, current selections will automatically roll over each year. However, FSA owners must re-enroll each year.""

Active open enrollment requires employees to select their options each year, whereas passive open enrollment allows them to automatically re-enroll in their preexisting selection.

Even if an employee’s situation is largely unchanged, it’s still a good practice to review policy changes and any new benefits. Intuitive benefits administration tech helps them compare past decisions to make confident choices.

8. What if an employee misses open enrollment?

Again, qualifying for a special enrollment period lets an employee who missed open enrollment secure coverage. If they didn’t intend to make any changes, missing open enrollment might not be that consequential.

In some cases, missing the deadline causes employees to lose coverage outright. Communicating regularly with employees and following up with those who haven’t enrolled early can help them avoid potential hardship.

The right HR tech also helps keep open enrollment top of mind with reminders and push notifications. Employees even can complete it from the comfort of their mobile device.

Open enrollment may seem like a lot, but a smooth, thorough process makes up for it in employee well-being and confidence.

Ready for your organization’s best open enrollment yet? Learn how Paycom’s Benefits Administration tool helps streamline the process for HR and employees.

 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.