As the federal government shakes up the health care landscape for 2018, decisions made during open enrollment this year are more significant than ever for your employees. But navigating health care options and picking the best plan for your needs continues to be a confusing and daunting task. Without ample guidance, employees can find themselves unprepared to make informed decisions once the open enrollment period rolls around.

Here are some key ways HR and benefits managers can build awareness ahead of the open enrollment period and make sure employees are not taken by surprise come November 1 this year:

  • Compile essential information in one, easy-to-read document. Create a one-page information sheet that defines key terms and publicizes contact names and numbers, important websites, and a list of all the information employees will need on hand to complete required forms.

  • Put notices on paycheck stubs. Whether on hard checks or online, adding reminders about open enrollment on documents employees will be sure to look at is an effective way of keeping open enrollment top of mind.

  • Grab attention on screens. Share informative videos via YouTube or Facebook, and play videos on screens available around the office, cafeteria, lobby, etc.

  • Set up a physical presence for fielding employee questions. Tents at cafe tables or a temporary information station in the office can be helpful for getting the word out and answering questions in person when employees aren't overwhelmed with their regular work duties.

  • Create a dedicated page on the company's intranet. If you have an internal company portal, make the most of it by setting up a content hub within it that's specifically focused on open enrollment. Include important links, FAQs, videos, and date reminders.

  • Reach out to employees' spouses/families. Many times, the actual decision maker on health insurance isn't the employee, but their spouse or other family member. Offer videos or webinars that employees can watch with their spouses to prepare for open enrollment together.

Besides making sure employees are aware of open enrollment and when it's approaching, it's also important to communicate clearly why open enrollment is so important, and help employees understand how to determine which options will be best for them.

Be prepared to discuss and answer the following questions for your employees: Why do I need coverage?  Which features best fit my needs? What value does the program provide for me? How much will this cost me per paycheck?

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