By Shannon Johnson, Product Center of Excellence Manager, Benefits
Its that time of year again. Annual Enrollment projects are drawing to a close. You’ve informed your employees about their choices, you’ve provided them with user friendly online tools to help them make their decisions and enrollment selections. You’ve transferred all of the enrollment and deduction data to your vendors/payroll and reviewed all of the reports to understand your participation rates. Now you can close out the project until next year, right? Wrong!
Now is the perfect time to help your employee’s better understand how to utilize and get the most out of the plans they’ve selected. You can do this by developing a Post Annual Enrollment Communication plan. Maybe you can include specialized articles in your monthly newsletter or on local bulletin boards or maybe your population responds well to weekly Benefit email or text blasts. Whichever method you use, the important thing is to get the information out there.
I know what you’re saying; “We’ve already provided information about our plans prior to AE.” Yes you did, but those communications were focused on providing information to help your employees choose the right plans for them and their families. But did those communications tell them how to setup their HSA bank account or how to file for FSA reimbursements? And if you did provide some of this information, your employees most likely did not focus on those instructions because they were too busy trying to understand how the HSA and FSA plans work, how they are different and which is best for them. Now that they are enrolled, a communication that includes “How To Use” or “What to expect” will resonate more with them now than it did prior to AE.
Now that you sold on the idea that a Post AE Communication plan is needed, let’s review some ideas on what should be included in these communications. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Payroll Deductions: Employees usually have a lot of questions about the deductions coming out of their check. So, if you can set the expectations prior to the first deductions in the new plan year, you will save them from confusion and yourself from numerous questions. Tell them things like when they should expect to see the new deductions and how will they look on their pay stubs.
ID Cards: Let your employees know which plans will be providing them with Member ID cards and what information will be included on the card. For example, does the card only include the member’s (employee’s) name or does it also include every covered family member. This will help the employee know when to expect the cards so they can be looking for them (and hopefully not throw them away as junk mail) and alleviate any concerns that their family members are included on their plans. For you as the administrator, this will reduce the number of questions you get about this topic.
FSA Plans: For first time enrollees, these plans can be confusing. You can help them by explaining how and when they can request reimbursements for the Healthcare and Dependent Care plans. For example, it’s pretty confusing that you can request a full reimbursement for the healthcare plan on day one but you must wait until the funds are in the dependent care account before you can request those dollars. If your plan provides a debit card, some information on how to use that card is always helpful.
HSA Plans: We’ve mentioned an important one on this topic already, setting up the account. This process can be very confusing for first time enrollees, so providing instructions early on will help ensure that the accounts are setup timely eliminating any issues when the first payroll deductions or your (employer) contribution amounts are being applied. Some other important points to explain for these accounts are: 1) reimbursement procedures, 2) how to use the debit card or check book, 3) account “bookkeeping” and 4) timing for funds going into the accounts.
These are just a few ideas that commonly cause employee confusion about their employer provided benefit plans. The important thing now that AE is over is to help your employees utilize the terrific benefit package that you have provided to them. One of the best ways to do that is to continuously educate them on how they can use their plans to better themselves and their families.
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