More Benefits Managers Opt for Mandatory Enrollment in 2004

August 30, 2004 ( - As benefits managers head into a new open enrollment season, increasing numbers of employers are requiring workers make an active benefits choice or risk getting put into a plan not meeting their needs.

Hewitt Associates also said in a news release that benefits cost-sharing – where companies require employees to pick up a portion of their health coverage costs – continue as a major benefits trend.

“Every company is under extreme pressure to reduce costs, especially in health care, where expenses have continued to skyrocket,” said Jennifer Murphy, Hewitt national leader for health care communication. “This pressure has forced companies to make major plan changes this year, but plan changes are only half the story. The only way to reduce costs is to drive better employee decisions. Employers can no longer afford to sit back and let enrollment happen. Rather, they need to be bold and provide guidance on what employees need to do and how to do it.”

Hewitt said other developments marking the new benefits season will also include:

  • an unprecedented number and level of decision support tools, such as medical expense estimators, health plan comparison charts, provider quality data, patient education and condition management information, health risk assessments, and expense account explanations and estimators.
  • customized design plans, allowing employees to choose from a menu of available options to create the best plan for them, based on price points, coverage, use and risk tolerance. More than 20% of Hewitt clients, a significant increase from last year, will go this route.
  • tax-advantaged flexible spending accounts and employers are increasing their contributions to or providing matches to these accounts to move more employees to high-deductible plans. More firms are also carefully eyeing the establishment of d Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).