Employees Frustrated with Open Enrollment Process

October 21, 2014 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - More than half (56%) of American employees who receive benefits from their employers say the traditional, paper-driven open enrollment process to sign up for health benefits is a waste of time.

According to PlanSource’s Open Enrollment Employee Survey, 55% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction and frustration with their employer’s benefits enrollment program. Nearly one-third each say it requires too much research (32%), figuring out how to fill out forms is difficult (31%) and it is mainly paper-driven (30%). Twenty-nine percent say getting confirmation of selections/coverage takes too long.

More than half (55%) of respondents say sorting through all their benefits options is confusing. 

The top complaints about open enrollment employees cite include:

  • the information they received explaining their benefits choices was confusing (20%);
  • there are too many forms to fill out (18%);
  • there aren’t enough choices in the benefits plan they were offered (17%); and
  • the online system they used to sign up was difficult to navigate (12%).

PlanSource also notes two-thirds (67%) of employees have to take time out of their workday researching, choosing and enrolling in their employer’s benefits plan during open enrollment, resulting in millions of hours of lost productivity.

The survey results show employees favor moving the open enrollment process online, with 70% saying an online exchange would be better, nearly four in 10 (38%) saying it would be faster, more than one-third (35%) saying it would be easier to compare plans/coverage options, and more than one-quarter (27%) saying it would be as easy to understand as shopping online.  More than one in five (22%) say moving open enrollment to an online exchange would mean less time would be spent on options not for them.  PlanSource is the provider of the OneMarket online exchange platform

Additionally, PlanSource’s Open Enrollment Survey found eight in 10 employees are driven by major milestones and considerations when it comes time to sign up for benefits, and they look to their benefits plan to help resolve important issues in their lives.

Top considerations weighing on their minds during open enrollment include:

  • saving money by choosing an affordable health care plan (44%);
  • staying healthy for their family (37%);
  • preparing for an unforeseen medical emergency or disability (37%);
  • ensuring their family’s financial well-being after their or their partner’s death (25%); and
  • getting ready for a new addition to the family (8%).

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of PlanSource from October 8 to October 10, among 2,060 adults ages 18 and older, of which 888 are employed full/part time.