With open enrollment 2015 fast approaching, health insurance brokers and agents are preparing for one of the busiest times of the year. Here are five tips from Mercer for brokers to ensure a positive and successful open enrollment season.
Tip 1: Revisit Consumer-Directed Health Plans
Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) are becoming more and more popular as cost-savings and cost-containing strategies. Since CDHPs encourage employees to make informed decisions to spend their money wisely, this can lead to significantly lower costs for employers.
The movement toward this type of arrangement is growing; according to Mercer, 39 percent of large employers offered a CDHP in 2013 and 64 percent say that they are likely to offer one in 2016.
In 2013, there was an estimated $23.8 billion in HSAs and HRAs, spread across 11.8 million "accounts".
The number of accounts was up slightly from 2012, when there were 11.7 million accounts.
Total assets were up from $18 billion in 2012 (source).
There is also a trend toward CDHPs with small employers. For example, small employers are rapidly transitioning employees from group health insurance plans to “pure” defined contribution health plans and individual health insurance. A “pure” defined contribution approach is ideal for smaller employers who are not subject to the mandate, but still want to provide a health benefit to their employees.
Tip 2: Communicate Early and Often
The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) employer shared responsibility mandate is going to make 2015 a big year for employers and brokers alike. According to Mercer, brokers should be communicating early and often about “who is eligible, why they are eligible, how eligibility was determined, what this means and what they now have to consider.” Those who remain ineligible should be educated on their options in the Marketplace and the individual health insurance market.
Mercer’s research revealed:
A third of employers still need to make changes to ensure their compliance with the ACA
Ten percent of employers are already in compliance with the ACA
The remaining employers were in compliance prior to the ACA
Tip 3: Make Voluntary Benefits a Big Part of the Open Enrollment Message
Employers are also using voluntary benefits to enrich existing core benefits and augment the total benefits package. According to Mercer, the most popular voluntary product offerings include vision, dental, accident, disability, and life insurance.
Tip 4: Use Open Enrollment to Reinforce Wellness Programs
Encourage employers with wellness programs to use open enrollment to reinforce the goals and standards that go along with these programs. Employers are adopting workplace wellness programs to reduce health insurance costs, become an employer of choice, recruit and retain employees, and sustain a healthy (and productive) workforce.
According to Mercer, “This is particularly important if any perceived compliance penalties are going to be introduced next year, such as increased premiums for those who do not participate in health screenings.”
Tip 5: Use Technology to Support Consumer-Driven Choices
More employees are being asked to take accountability for their healthcare decisions and benefits. Employers can help their employees make informed decisions and provide support by using a variety of different types of technology. Mercer suggests using digital wallet cards to hold all benefit and benefit contact information in one place for employees to reference.
Similarly, employers offering a “pure” defined contribution health plan can use leading defined contribution software to help with the administrative tasks of plan administration, ensure compliance, provide employee access to the benefits, and integrate the broker’s health insurance services.
What are you doing to prepare for open enrollment 2015? Leave a comment below.