Mercer Releases Open Enrollment Checklist

July 24, 2012 ( - As many U.S. plan sponsors develop tactics for rolling out their 2013 health benefit programs, Mercer designed a checklist to help with open enrollment season.

By Jay Polansky | July 24, 2012

The checklist suggests that plan sponsors:

  • Use open enrollment to reinforce the value of the health and benefits program – Employees clearly appreciate their employer-sponsored benefits; 79% say their benefits are one of the primary reasons they work where they do, and 91% say receiving health benefits through work is just as important as salary. Open enrollment also provides an opportunity to promote the tools and educational materials that help employees make better enrollment decisions.
  • Understand the implications and scenarios of health care reform – Even before the recent Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care reform law, more than one-third (36%) of employees expected employers to change health plan benefits due to health care reform, more than double the level reported one year earlier. Employers should work with consultants, administrators and other stakeholders now to finalize compliance requirements and allow time to implement plan changes.
  • Leverage online/electronic communications – Ninety percent of employees of Mercer’s health and benefits administration clients enrolled online during the 2012 open enrollment period. Given that employees are receptive to receiving information online, consider also the cost savings of e-delivery of open enrollment materials. In addition to proving popular and effective at driving informed employee enrollment behaviors, e-delivery—such as personalized emails, micro-sites and text messages—is also cost effective.
  • Consider adding a wellness program – Employees are increasingly engaged with wellness programs. Of the 61% who report that their company offers such benefits, 30% say they take advantage of these benefits "a great deal"—up from 23% in 2010. These programs provide effective forums to drive employee adoption of healthy behaviors, improving both employee engagement and the bottom line.
  • Move ahead of the crowd – The vast majority of Mercer Outsourcing’s health and benefits administration clients have their open enrollment windows start and/or end between the last week of October and the first two weeks of November. Consider when you offer your window to allow ample time for critical post-enrollment deliverables such as ID cards and targeted communication and education, particularly as related to health care reform.

The checklist is based on key findings from the 2011 Mercer Workplace Survey, an annual, nationally representative study of employees who participate in their employer’s company-sponsored health plan.