Three Conversations You Need To Have With Your Broker After Open Enrollment

Written by Allison Loehman | January 4, 2019

This week, we deliver the third part of our series designed to help you create and execute a powerful post-open enrollment analysis strategy.

In case you need to catch up: 

Part 1 covered the top five post open enrollment survey questions to ask your employees.

Part 2 showed you how to survey your key internal stakeholders around the topics of planning, execution, results, and communication to obtain a retrospective evaluation of open enrollment. 

Today we will explain the three most important conversations you need to have with your broker after open enrollment. As you work to achieve better enrollment numbers, your broker can be a valuable resource, helping you define more effective benefit packages and ensuring your employees take advantage of coverage in a holistic way.

Post-Open Enrollment Analysis Topics to Discuss With Your Broker

After the dust of open enrollment settles, schedule a meeting (or several) with your broker to talk through the following topics:

  1. How can we use data to refine our offerings?

  2. How can we solve ______ pain point?

  3. How does our benefits package compare to others in our industry?

How can we use data to refine our offerings?

As any scientist will tell you, digging into data can help identify trends, formulate and test new theories, and enable understanding. The same is true when it comes to using data from last year's open enrollment to assist in benefits planning for next year.

Armed with objective information, you and your broker can work together to refine your offerings — setting up tailored plans that range from high coverage and low risk to low coverage and high risk, while effectively packaging health, dental, vision, life, HSA/FSA contributions, critical illness, disability, and/or accident coverage based on the combination of options your employees truly need.

We recommend pulling the following reports (either manually, or through your benefits enrollment software) to help guide this conversation.

  • Overall Participation Rate: Look at details around total participation in your core medical offerings, as well as ancillary and voluntary benefits, contribution plans, wellness programs, etc. Use this data to identify if you've reached specific goals such as increases in online benefits enrollment or higher average number of benefits selected. 

  • Participation Rate by Benefits Class: Break the above data down even further by looking at the total counts of the participants enrolled in plan by benefits class, demographic, geography or other specific criteria sets. Use this data to identify which offerings best resonate with your different employee personas

  • Year-to-Year Plan Movement: Use this report to examine what plans employees have added / dropped during open enrollment year-over-year.

  • S.M.A.R.T. Goal Reports: Make sure to run any reports that provide data for the specific SMART goals you set for open enrollment. For example, if you were looking to save costs by lowering the percentage of ineligible dependents covered under your plan, you can run a Dependent Census report to identify all dropped / added dependents and their plan type elections and compare to prior years to see where you landed. 

How can we help solve ______ pain point?

Consider asking your broker for help solving any pain points you experienced during open enrollment. Chances are, they've seen or solved the scenario before. And even if your broker has not personally solved these issues, he or she can use their industry connections and peer relationships to help you find viable solutions.

For example, using the data available in our benefits enrollment software, one of our broker clients noticed that a particular employer group had a high percentage of  emergency room (ER) claims for non-emergent conditions. He reached out to his network to see if his peers had helped other employer groups combat a similar scenario. From this helpful feedback, the broker was able to recommend the launch of an ongoing educational communication campaign to teach employees when to use the ER, when to go to urgent care and when to make appointments with a physician’s office — and most importantly, the effect of the choices on individual and plan costs. The objective is to educate employees on the impact of their choices, and involve them in solving the problem — consistent with the fundamentals of consumer-driven health (CDH).

The employer then created a multi-touch communication campaign with email, direct mail and in-person workshops to deliver the educational message to their employees. Quickly, the employer began to see ER utilization decrease substantially. When combined with the broker's additional recommendation of an increased out-of-pocket cost for ER visits the following year, utilization fell still further, to roughly 10 percent.

How does our benefits package compare to others in our industry?

in today's tight labor market, increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty while strengthening your company’s appeal to new candidates is exactly the kind of competitive positioning employers need. To do that, many companies have aggressively doubled down on their benefits package offerings. Perhaps you evaluated your benefits offering with your broker months ago as part of the planning for the recent enrollment period. Whether you went through the exercise previously, or are addressing now, it is important to see how you measure up against your competition. Ask your broker to use anonymized data to show you how your compare to peers in similar industries with similar employee demographics. Areas your broker can help you identify include, but are not limited to:

  1. How expansive are other firm's health plan choices? Are competitors offering both traditional health plans and HDHPs?

  2. How do our premiums and out-of-pocket costs compare with those of our competitors?

  3. What percentage of our competitors are offering contribution accounts?

  4. What type of voluntary benefits are my competitors offering?

Post-Open Enrollment Analysis Next Steps

Join us next week for our fourth and final post in this series where we take an in-depth look at how to objectively evaluate your benefits administration outsourcing provider  after the open enrollment period.

Still performing open enrollment on paper? Or, on a system so inefficient it might as well be on paper? If so, you might have a hard time collecting the data and analyzing the reports we've highlighted above.

Perhaps it's time to go digital, or switch providers. Accurate data, ease of use, employee adoption and increased participation — all results of a custom, digital enrollment process made possible by our robust benefits enrollment software. 

Interested? Let's chat.

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Topics: For Brokers & Consultants, For Employers