Choosing Your 2021 Insurance Benefits During Open Enrollment

Posted by Employer Flexible on October 2, 2020
Employer Flexible

In the best of times Open Enrollment can feel a bit like doing your taxes. You know it is an important task that needs to be completed, but it can be confusing, frustrating, and time-consuming.

Of course, 2020 is far from the best of times with the COVID-19 pandemic, so it may be harder than ever for people to focus on Open Enrollment. It is crucial that companies let their employees know how and when Open Enrollment will take place.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open Enrollment is that one time of the year that you can adjust your insurance or benefits options, except for special circumstances.

The medical, dental and vision coverage you select for you and your family will be locked in for 12 months so options should be weighed carefully. Employees should do the following for a successful Open Enrollment:

  • Start the process by reviewing your existing benefits. Keep in mind, you do not have to wait until Open Enrollment starts to do this review.
  • Consider if any big changes have occurred or will occur in the next year that might require a change in your medical, dental or vision insurance.
  • Research and carefully consider the insurance options available for the next year. Remember, that insurance plans and benefits are constantly evolving so even if you are staying with your current options, you should research them.
  • Once your Open Enrollment period opens elect or waive coverage of each benefit type available, enrolling dependents where applicable.
  • Seek answers from your HR for any Open Enrollment questions and use your company’s resources to make informed selections.

Open Enrollment Deadlines

Get three people in a room and ask them about Open Enrollment deadlines and you might get three different answers … and they all might be right.

Open Enrollment deadlines and procedures vary depending on the source of your insurance:

  • If you receive private health insurance via your employer, then Open Enrollment dates are set by your company. Typically, you will have a window of several weeks for Open Enrollment between October and December.
  • For individuals and families that get their insurance through ACA-compliant health plans and not their employers, Open Enrollment runs from Nov. 1, 2020 to Dec. 15, 2020 in most states, including Texas. In 15 states, with fully state-run exchanges, there is an option to extend the Open Enrollment window. * Open Enrollment for Medicare recipients will be between Oct. 15, 2020 and Dec. 7, 2020 with new coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2021.

Open Enrollment Best Practices for Your Business

The COVID-19 pandemic has added a degree of difficulty to every aspect of business life and Open Enrollment is no exception. Companies should prepare for an Open Enrollment that does not feature in-person meetings.

Virtual enrollment meetings, through group video calls, were already on the rise and will be essential to make Open Enrollment work in 2020. Businesses should partner with their insurance carriers to determine the best means of hosting  digital Open Enrollment.

Employer Flexible recommends the following timeline for businesses:

  • October: Work with stakeholders to elect plans to present to employees for 2021
  • November: Host Open Enrollment sessions, virtually if in-person sessions are not possible
  • December: Gather data from Open Enrollment sessions and selections and forward it to providers

Companies should already be planning their 2021 Open Enrollment virtual process with an online enrollment platform for selecting benefits.

In addition to hosting remote meetings between HR and employees, resources should be available for easy download.

Videos, like this one, can be useful to explain key aspects of choices employees face during Open Enrollment such as the difference between Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), should your company offer both.

The fact that HSAs are can be rolled over and that FSAs are “use it or lose it” funds has become a hot-button issue this year with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees face FSA funds unspent with three months left in the year after the cancellation of routine dental, vision and medical appointments and postponement of elective procedures.

Reach out to Employer Flexible today to discuss an Open Enrollment process that meets the unique needs of your organization.

Topics: Employee Benefits