August 8, 2014 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Employers should use their open enrollment period to convey the most current information about health care coverage to employees, according to speakers for a recent Mercer webinar.
the webinar titled “Preparing for 2015 Open Enrollment,” Mike Sinkeldam, a
principal for Mercer's Health and Benefits practice in Irvine, California, pointed to some
employee-focused objectives of open enrollment that are important.
“Communicating changes about benefit programs to employees, reminding them of
the benefits available, and giving them the chance to make changes to their benefits
should all be carried out during this period.”
said this is also a time to carry out more employer-based objectives, including
administrative needs, such as making sure beneficiary designations and
dependent information are correct, and employee relation goals, such as
educating them about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and
how it affects them. Employers should also use this time to manage legal
compliance requirements via communications, which can include various
notifications and reporting that are required by state or federal law.
also noted that while laws that deal with health care coverage, such as
Internal Revenue Code Section 125 and the Employee Retirement Income Security
Act (ERISA), do not specifically require employers to hold an open enrollment
period, it is encouraged and can be helpful in meeting the previously mentioned
employee and employer objectives.
York-based Babette Madison, a principal in Mercer's Health and Benefits
practice, offered several tips for the open enrollment period:
legally required communications. This includes providing new hires with a
public exchange notice, which explains health care exchange systems and
services, as well as tax credits and subsidies;
materials to reflect 2015 information;
a Summary of Material Modifications (SMM) document to communicate changes;
delivery methods to ensure required notices get into the hands of employees;
the use of technology to facilitate the process. If electronic delivery can be
used, it may save an employer time and money; and
- Consider how to
capture information from employees (mailing addresses, beneficiary designations
and so on) that may be needed for an employer's records.