Most employees report not receiving sufficient enrollment information regarding their benefit plans, according to the 2012 Open Enrollment Survey by Aflac.
In fact, 52 percent of respondents say their employers have failed to distribute any communication outlining the upcoming open enrollment periods, and 39 percent of respondents say they're only somewhat prepared for open enrollments. Twenty-six percent of respondents report feeling unprepared or very unprepared.
These findings provide a different outlook to employers' assessments of their benefits communications strategies’ effectiveness from a separate survey in April when 49 percent of respondents said their benefits communications were very or extremely effective.
When there are failures in benefits communications, especially during open enrollment, employees are more likely to make expensive mistakes when it comes to their health care, retirement and other employer-sponsored plan, Aflac executive vice president Audrey Boone Tillman.
The survey even finds that 24 percent of respondents say they opted for the wrong level of insurance coverage or benefits options they didn't need. Only 16 percent of respondents say they're confident they aren't making mistakes during the enrollment process.
“If employers do not regularly educate workers about benefits offerings, their employees could face difficult financial challenges,” Tillman says. “Workers want to understand their insurance options, but many don't believe they have the information or the tools they need. Open enrollment is a crucial time for employers to help workers make smart choices about their physical and financial health.”
While 48 percent of respondents say they're only sometimes aware of yearly plan changes, 13 percent of respondent report rarely or never being aware of plan changes. Fifty-percent of respondents say they somewhat or strongly agree that meeting with an insurance consultant during open enrollment would help them be better informed about their options.
Another 89 percent of respondents report simply choosing the same benefits each year, and 47 percent of respondents say they rarely or never surpassed deductible costs. Just 16 percent of respondents believe they contribute the proper amount to flexible spending accounts.