Open enrollment is the busiest time of the year for brokers and HR managers alike and we’re here to help get you through the season. Before you get to the main event (i.e. open enrollment), there are six essential steps you can take to prepare and set yourself and your clients up for success this year. The earlier you start, the more business you’re likely to quote and the better you’ll be able to serve existing and new clients. So let’s dive in.
1. Evaluate your processes and technology to improve efficiency
Before you can improve your open enrollment process, you have to know what worked last year and what didn’t. Honestly evaluate how the process went for you and the feedback you received from your clients. What are the obvious areas for improvement? For example:
- Did you waste time on paperwork? Find areas where you can automate and digitize the process.
- Did you have trouble keeping information consistent across multiple platforms? Find a way to connect your different platforms or find a single platform that serves all of your needs so it’s easier to ensure the information stays consistent. This could also cut down on paperwork.
- Were you asked the same questions over and over? Determine how you can communicate this information en masse so that it’s easy for employees to find and understand.
- How can you answer the questions you field more efficiently?
- Were there tasks that took too much time to complete? Develop a plan to streamline these processes. Ask yourself if there’s a platform or tool that can take some or all of these tasks off of your plate.
2. Get up-to-date with the latest health insurance changes
Current and prospective clients need your expertise in order to make the best decisions for their employees. So getting up-to-date on the four most common changes to the health insurance landscape will help you better help them. Your research should include:
- Health insurance rates. These change every year so you should know the following rates for the plans your clients are currently enrolled in: premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits. But be aware that changes in group size will affect rates, so you’ll need to collect additional information from clients before you can put together an actual quote for the following plan year.
- Which carriers are offering which plans in your geographic area? Each year carriers pull out of, and enter into, new markets. They can also make changes to existing plans or add new plan types and discontinue others. So before you meet with clients, you’ll want to determine which plans are available in the geographic areas you serve.
- Healthcare legislation. Outside of carrier and plan specifics, this is an area where you can really shine. Your clients are likely experts in their chosen business and focus their energy there. So while they might be aware of healthcare legislative changes, they might not fully grasp how those changes affect their company. You can help them by framing the legislative changes in terms of what they mean to your clients’ specific situations.
- New benefits offerings and employee trends. Another way you can help your clients is in keeping them abreast of the latest trends in benefits offerings. These could include voluntary benefits and programs like wellness initiatives and telemedicine that are popular amongst employees and can lead to higher overall employee satisfaction. Offering popular benefits can help them both retain and attract talent.
3. Meet with existing groups
Prospecting new clients is exciting, but one of the most efficient ways to grow your book of business is to take good care of the clients you already have. To help these clients get ready for open enrollment and to help you offer them the best benefits package for their company, you’ll want to set up meetings with their HR departments and other decision-makers.
Prior to your meetings collect the following from your clients:
- What feedback did they receive from employees about their current benefits offerings? What were they happy with? What were their pain points?
- Have there been shifts in headcount, new offices opened or employees hired in different states, a merger or any other change that would affect their benefits?
- Are there any changes to the business that may impact benefits allocation?
Come to the meetings armed with the information you collected about changes to the health insurance landscape and how those changes, when paired with any changes the company has made, affect the benefits that are currently being offered. You might also want to check benchmarking data for companies of similar size for each client so you’re able to develop realistic goals for open enrollment. The purpose of these meetings is to narrow in on your clients’ current needs so you can present them with the best benefits packages possible, as well as to introduce them to new processes and technology.
4. Collect the data you need
If there’s one thing that’s certain about the health insurance industry, it’s that it involves a lot of personal data. And all of that data needs to be entered into your system. The earlier you request and receive this data from your clients, the easier it will be to upload it to your system and crosscheck it for inconsistencies and duplications. Having the right data uploaded and ready to go prior to open enrollment will make the entire season go smoother.
5. Quote and finalize your plans
Once you have the information you need to provide your clients with the best benefits package to meet their needs, you’ll want to pull your quotes and present the necessary information briefly, clearly and effectively in a branded template. Before you present it to the client, you’ll want to double check all plan options meet ACA requirements and state and local ordinances.
Once your clients have finalized their plan offerings, you’ll want to collaborate with them to develop a plan for employee education (both prior to open enrollment and during the process) and to establish goals for the season. Offer any readymade collateral you have from carriers or that you’ve produced in-house, and offer to assist in the production of new collateral. The better educated the employees are, the easier everyone’s jobs will be.
6. Get started with Lively
Lively is your partner through open enrollment season and beyond, offering top-rated customer support for brokers, employers, and employees. If you want to offer your clients an HSA that gives participants the best investment options and the ease of a well-made app, reach out today.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.