Open enrollment – the annual event when small business employees choose, sign up for or opt out of employer-sponsored group insurance offerings – is a relatively simple process once workers have decided which benefits best meet their health and budgetary needs.
Before they enroll, employees should learn everything they can about the benefits packages available to them through the company. Under normal circumstances, employees would attend an in-person meeting at which the employer, an insurance provider or a professional employer organization – depending on whether the employer works with a PEO or other provider or manages benefits in-house – would distribute information about each available benefits plan. During that meeting, employees would be able to review information and ask questions about each plan.
During the pandemic, however, such meetings typically are being held online. Employees will receive information in advance of the meeting, with PEO or internal HR representatives available before, during and after to answer questions. After employees fully understand each of their options and the associated costs, they select which benefits plans – if any – they want to enroll in for the coming year.
Selections and enrollment
To enroll, employees simply log in to portal accounts set up by the PEO or the insurance carrier to make their selections. Employees must complete the online benefit enrollment even if they are waiving coverage.
Enrollment itself is a simple task during which employees fill out an online form, including information about dependents and beneficiaries. Enrollees are guided by straightforward prompts that clearly indicate how to proceed after each step.
Open enrollment is the time of year when employees can alter their coverage by choosing those benefits they believe are best for them. Employers should communicate early and often as renewal dates approach to give employees ample time to educate themselves about their options and select the benefits that will help them stay healthy and engaged in the coming year.