How to structure an employee benefits enrollment and select an enrollment companyArticle added by Philip Eide on February 25, 2013 -

Philip Eide

Shaker Heights, OH

Joined: December 12, 2010

Once the employer has worked with a broker to decide on an employee benefits strategy and plan design, it is imperative to make the best possible decision on who will handle the enrollment processes and what enrollment company or services to use. The enrollment process decisions should include:
  • How to educate the employees and their families
  • How to best communicate the choices of plans, programs and services
  • What form of enrollment will be used — one-on-one, group meetings, paper-based forms, call center, Internet-based, or a combination of these strategies
  • How the data will be managed once the choices have been made by the employees and their families. A number of parties may require this information in a timely manner. This information might include: insurance and non-insurance providers, TPAs, payroll, etc.
The best strategies and designs for the employee benefits include:
  • Fully funded plans
  • Partially self-funded plans
  • Self-funded plans
  • Defined contribution (DC) for the above plans
These strategies and designs will collapse and fail without a well-planned strategy of the enrollment processes. The following is a list of tips for brokers and employers as they begin selecting the methods and strategies for employee benefits enrollment:

1. Know the group's demographics
  • Number of employees eligible
  • Access to employee contact information
  • Language(s) spoken by employees and their families
  • Number and times of work shifts
  • Distribution of employees
  • Number of locations
  • Ease of access to employees
  • Level of employee knowledge about the plans, programs and services to be offered
  • Internet and mobile access to employees
2. Know the plan design, including:
  • Core benefits to be offered — health plan(s), dental plan(s), vision plan(s), life plan(s), long-term disability (LTD), etc.
  • Voluntary/worksite plans to be offered — limited health plans; short-term disability (STD); long-term disability (LTD); long-term care (LTCI); dental; vision; critical illness (CI); hospital income (HI); UL, WL and term life; annuities; cancer, pet; legal; etc.
  • Tax-advantaged plans to be offered, as applicable — Section 125; Medical/Health, Dependent Care, and Transportation Reimbursement Accounts; HRAs, HSAs, etc? 
  • Eligibility — full-time and part-time employees
  • Eligibility period — when new hires or "change in status" employees become eligible
  • Length of enrollment period
  • Documents required to be signed by employees
  • When and how retirement plan choices will be explained and enrolled
3. Type of enrollment desired?
  • One-on-one
  • At a group setting
  • Internet-based
  • Call center-based
  • Mix of the above
4. Will and should the enrollment team be affiliated with a carrier?
    Many voluntary benefit carriers offer "free" enrollment services if the employer offers one or more of the carrier's plans.
5. How is the enrollment company paid?
    Brokers may be able to negotiate with the providers/carriers of plans, programs and services to share in the cost of the enrollment.
6. How are the enrollees compensated for a one-on-one enrollment?
    Are they compensated with commission from plans sold, salary, per diem or per hour?
7. How will the enrollment company monitor the enrollment process?

8. How will the employer and broker(s) be kept posted on the progress of the enrollment?

9. How will the enrollment company monitor problems reported by employees, department heads and managers?

10. Will the enrollment company be responsible for distributing the employee's "selections" and "payroll deductions" to the appropriate parties, i.e. carriers, TPAs, payroll, etc?

11. Will representatives of the enrollment company be available when the paychecks are issued following the first new employee deductions?

12. How will the enrollment company handle new hires, changes in eligibility, etc?

If the employer and broker(s) work together to address the above issues and questions, and if they are careful in selecting the enrollment company or service, then the potential for a successful enrollment will increase dramatically.
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