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Preparing for Open Enrollment During the Pandemic

Health insurance has likely been top of mind for your employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as open enrollment approaches, you can expect to find a workforce that will be more engaged and interested in their coverage.

You will also have to handle the open enrollment process at a time when many of your staff may be working from home so holding large group meetings is out of the question.

As a result, you’ll need to communicate effectively with your staff about plan choices, changes to plans, and how COVID-19 treatment and testing will be covered, among other issues. Here’s a number of methods to get this important information to your staff:

E-mails and e-newsletters

E-mails are an excellent way to communicate important information to employees, and to gather information on what they are opening, reading and forwarding. This should be your primary source for sending employees information, scheduled meetings, deadline reminders, etc. about open enrollment.

Web meetings

With in-person meetings off the table for most employers, instead hold webinar meetings using videoconferencing. Handle these webinars like you would have approached your typical in-person open enrollment meeting. Focus on:

  • Changes in health plan premiums,
  • Discussion about coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment,
  • Plan changes like deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copays, and more,
  • Network changes,
  • New offerings, and
  • Resources to help your employees choose the right plan.

Require all of your staff to participate in the actual meeting or to view a recording of the meeting if they cannot attend. Set up a virtual sign-up for them to confirm they attended and received all the information.

Offer benefit support

Provide online support to answer questions that your employees may have when they are deciding on plans.

Text messaging

Send text messages about upcoming benefit meetings, contact resources, how to access the enrollment and benefit portal, and who to call for assistance.

Intranet, enrollment portal

Post open enrollment information on your firm’s intranet. Include links to the enrollment portal, start and end dates, all plan benefit guides and plan summaries, benefit counselor contact information, and other resources they may need.

The takeaway

Some of your staff may be anxious about the coronavirus so make sure to take time to answer all their questions.  By employing a mix of communications strategies, you can conduct a safe open enrollment and help your employees choose wisely.

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