The Basics of Open Enrollment

Open enrollment refers to the period of time when an employee can sign up for a new health plan regardless of whether they have a plan or not.

Open enrollment takes place from November 1st to December 15th each year for individuals, but employer-sponsored group plans may have a slightly different date range. With open enrollment right around the corner, let’s take a look at the basics of what you need to do and what happens if employees miss the date range.

What basic questions do I need to answer during open enrollment?

If your company offers health insurance, the first thing you should figure out is when the plan’s renewal period is. The renewal period is a great time to run an audit of what the plan provides, what benefits it offers, at what price, and other considerations. Once you have an understanding of your company’s health insurance options, consider the following questions:

  • Has your dental, vision, or medical plans changed? If they have, are the changes more expensive? Do they offer more coverage?

  • What do your employees’ need? Are there a lot of employees with families on the payroll? If you do, what benefits will help them out?

  • Are you having trouble hiring? If you are, it may be time to reevaluate your benefits to recruit great employees.

  • How do your employees feel about what’s currently offered? If you’re unsure of the answer, it may be time to ask! Send out an anonymous survey to get a sense of how satisfied your team is with your company benefits.

Determine what you can afford and what your company needs, then work with your health insurance broker to either find a better plan or stick with the one you have. If you’re looking for a new plan, this is called a renewal, and your carrier will be able to propose a similar alternative. If you keep your old plan or opt for a renewal, make sure your employees clearly understand what their options are. Communicate any changes to the available plan or how to make new changes if you’ve selected new options.

The Definitive Guide to Employee Benefits

What if my employees miss open enrollment?

If your employees miss open enrollment they can still sign up for health insurance if they have a qualifying life event. The two most common qualifying life events include getting married and having a child. You can see a full list of qualifying life events here.

Qualifying life events are broken into three categories:

  • Changes in your place of residence, like moving

  • Occupancy changes in a household, like getting married or having a child

  • Losing health insurance, like if you turn 26 and don’t qualify for your parent’s coverage, or if you were previously covered by your spouse’s plan

If any of these qualifying life events happen to your employees, they have a 30-day period after the event to enroll in another plan better suited to their circumstance.

Open enrollment is often a tricky time of year for HR, but Dominion is here to help! Learn how we can simplify open enrollment by clicking here.