Open enrollment 2020 will be unlike previous years thanks to the many changes brought about by the coronavirus crisis. Not only are insurance options bound to change, but the way producers and brokers present insurance options will also be different as well. As a broker, it is in your best interests to work with your clients to help facilitate a smooth open enrollment period.
We have laid out five steps below that should help you as you advocate on behalf of your clients. Be prepared for many questions. Be prepared to talk about topics you might have never broached with your clients before. This year's open enrollment season is going to be interesting.
Step #1: Review All Available Options
It is imperative that you understand all the insurance options available to your clients before you start meeting with them. It's likely that most mainstream health plans will include some sort of coronavirus coverage for the coming year, whether that entails only testing or treatment as well. Where high deductible health plans are concerned, adding a health savings account should at least be considered.
Step #2: Prepare for Virtual Meetings
Coronavirus protocols have kept us distanced from one another for the better part of seven months. Do not expect to hold in-person seminars with large numbers of employees this year. Instead, anticipate that some of your clients will ask you to provide virtual seminars.
As a broker, this is a perfect opportunity for you to use technology to improve what you do. Now is the time to get set up on virtual meetings so that you are ready to go in November. If you can present 2021 benefits options via virtual meetings, you will be more accessible to those clients reluctant to meet in person.
Step #3: Encourage Snail Mail Delivery
There is a good chance that many employers will consider getting benefits information into the hands of employees via email and other electronic means. Unfortunately, state laws prevent electronic distribution in most cases. You can help your clients by encouraging them to use snail mail delivery this year. Although mailing benefits information is a bit more expensive, it addresses the reality that manual distribution at the work site might not be possible this year.
Step #4: Review Both Active and Passive Enrollment
Employers can generally choose whether they want to offer an active or passive enrollment. Active enrollment encourages employees to go through and look at each of their options before making changes to current coverage. Passive enrollment allows them to leave things as-is with very little effort on their part.
Both forms of enrollment have their advantages and disadvantages. But in an environment where people are stressed by coronavirus fears, it might be better to go with passive enrollment this year. At any rate, employers need to be made aware of both options.
Step #5: Create an Incremental Strategy
Finally, we have all been bombarded by tons of coronavirus information. It is to the point where people don't know what to believe and what to dismiss. In this kind of environment, presenting clients and their employees with 2021 information in one fell swoop is not advisable. You are better off developing an incremental approach that feeds information in stages.
This year will undoubtedly be remembered for coronavirus and its impact on every aspect of daily life. Be prepared for a 2020 open enrollment season that looks nothing like what you're used to. Whatever you do, be there to support your clients in any way you can. A successful open enrollment this year will go a long way toward solidifying client loyalty.