When it comes to benefits planning, there are often no simple answers or quick fixes. There may have been a time when an insurance broker came to your office before your intended open enrollment period, you signed on the dotted line and presented the plan to employees the following week. However, it seems benefits planning has quickly become a year-round process in which you are identifying, preparing and evaluating your offerings.
Step 1: Identify major benefit changes
As you look forward to your next open enrollment period, it is important to take stock in where you are and where you would like to be. If, for example, you would like to implement a high deductible health plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA), you will want to consider your current benefits and if they affect eligibility for an HSA. Key questions to consider:
- Will you be implementing a new plan?
- Do the plan years align with all of your benefit programs?
- Are all of your plans compatible? Do you need to make changes to ensure they are?
Step 2: Prep employees
Benefits planning is not only important for employers, but also for employees.
Benefits planning is not only important for employers, but also for employees. When you are planning major changes to your benefits offerings, employees need to understand:
- How will the new option compare to another offering available to them, such as a spouse’s benefits offering? Anytime you make a significant change to benefits, employees are likely to review their options and may make a change to their benefits approach.
- Do employees need to be concerned with conflicting coverage? When implementing an HSA-compatible health plan, employees need to consider what other coverage they may have in order to be eligible to contribute to an HSA. Something as simple as a Medical FSA through a spouse can prevent an individual from being HSA eligible.
- Is there any action the employee must take to ensure a seamless transition to the new plan? If you have a Medical FSA with an extended grace period, employees looking to be HSA eligible in the new plan year will need to make sure they spend down their FSA balance prior to the end of the plan year or risk delaying contributions to the HSA.
By communicating your intended changes well in advance of the open enrollment period, you help to engage employees in the benefits planning process and ensure they are prepared to maximize the offerings.
Step 3: Identify your benefits planning team
As you pursue your benefits planning journey, it is important to consider who is assisting you down the path. You will need a strong benefit consultant or broker who will guide you through the intricacies of your health plan options. The best consultants will work with you on a long-term strategy to improve savings and satisfaction among employees. You will also likely need a benefits administrator who can support your corresponding pre-tax benefit account needs, such as a Flexible Spending Account, Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Account. While a health plan carrier, payroll vendor or local bank may offer these services, you will likely sacrifice expertise and support. A benefits administrator, such as Benefit Resource, provides you with a dedicated client representative, an in-depth understanding of the different account options and how they are coordinated and a strong service support team for your employees.
So don’t wait until open enrollment is here! Get a jump start on benefits planning this year!