Open enrollment is to employee health insurance what the World Series is to Major League Baseball. It is the health insurance event of the year. It gets tons of hype. And when it is all over, there may even be a little bit of a letdown. But for insurance brokers in the benefits space, there is a lot to do after open enrollment ends.
In fairness, there are certain tasks that employers and their employees need to take care of post-enrollment. The reality is that open enrollment’s closure really isn’t the end of anything. It simply the transition from one insurance year into the next.
Dallas-based BenefitMall tackled this very topic from the broker’s perspective in a post published in December of 2021. The post mentioned a few key things that brokers should do immediately following open enrollment. However, many of their points have application to employers and employees as well.
Managing Online Accounts
If you recently participated in open enrollment yourself, perhaps you have noticed that the health insurance industry has finally gone online. You might have made your open enrollment choices through an insurance portal provided by your employer. In fact, you may even have your own online account for managing your benefits moving forward.
Getting online was a fantastic move by the health insurance industry. But it is of little benefit to employers and their workers if they do not utilize online tools. So the weeks and months following open enrollment are the ideal time for brokers to help their clients manage online accounts.
Distributing New ID Card
The start of the new insurance year should mean new ID cards for employees. Distributing the cards is one of the first post-open enrollment tasks for insurance carriers and employers. In some cases, card distribution is handled by brokers instead of carriers. Either way, employees need their new ID cards in order to access healthcare services.
From the employee’s perspective, there is something else to do in the weeks following open enrollment: check pay stubs to make sure withheld amounts are correct. Insurance premiums change every year, so withholding should change as well. Employees should not trust that the HR department or their employer’s contracted payroll company got the numbers right. They should always verify the numbers themselves.
Planning for Next Year
Among all the things that brokers do during the post-open enrollment period, none is more important than starting to plan for next year. Again, a comparison to Major League Baseball is appropriate. The World Series concludes by the end of October during normal season. Both leagues take a few weeks to catch their breath and then it is back to work. They immediately start preparing for spring training.
Believe it or not, teams and leagues only have a few months to prepare for spring training. And while spring training is going on, they are preparing for the regular season. There really is little time for rest.
The same is true for benefits brokers. Open enrollment is their busiest time of year. It is when they truly earn their money. But the rest of the year is spent servicing clients and preparing for the next open enrollment. Brokers prepare by:
- researching new carriers
- looking at new products
- improving their services
- engaging with clients
- following leads for new clients.
It truly is a never-ending process. While the end of open enrollment may give employees an excuse to forget about their benefits for the coming year, it marks the start of a whole new insurance year for brokers. It is the employee benefits circle of life.