Shorter days mean fall is right around the corner. For many, with fall comes health insurance open enrollment. Now that summer is more than halfway over, it’s important to begin planning for enrollment, especially if your district’s health insurance effective date is September 1 through January 1. We recently sat down with one of our Account Development Coordinators, Lisa Stevens, to discuss how you can prepare for open enrollment.
With more than eight years’ experience, Lisa knows a thing or two about how to make enrollments as seamless as possible. Take a look at this checklist to help you start planning now:
1. Is your Section 125 Plan Document up-to-date?
If your palms are already sweating because you’re not sure where you plan document is—or if one exists—now’s the time to get serious. If you are audited, the auditor will want to see your Section 125 Plan document. And while an audit of a public school may seem like a long shot, it’s not that far off.
We’ve seen several school districts face an audit in the last few years—something we never thought would happen. Help protect yourself by learning what should be on your plan document and how you can ensure your Section 125 Plan is compliant.
2. Are you investing in employee benefits education?
Nearly all employees (98 percent) agree it’s important to understand their benefits—yet only one-third say they understand them well.1If you have room to incorporate benefits education in to your professional development days, the investment could pay dividends during fall enrollment. More importantly, if you’ve recently introduced a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), education is key to employee satisfaction and adoption.
3. Is your enrollment method the best for your business and group size?
If you have 500 or more employees, you may want to consider an electronic enrollment platform to improve efficiencies. Due to the setup and maintenance of an online enrollment, a paper enrollment may be better for groups under 500 employees.
We recommend a positive enrollment, or an enrollment where all employees are required to turn something in, even if they don’t make any changes. A positive enrollment is recommended over a changes-only enrollment because changes-only enrollments don’t clean up ineligible dependents.
Whether you decide on electronic or paper enrollment, let us do the work for you. We provide the platform at no charge and offer full benefits with 500 or more employees. We can gather forms, alphabetize, and check them as we go—helping you improve the efficiency of the enrollment process.
4. Are unnecessary dependents costing you money?
As you’re thinking about fall enrollment, consider how long it has been since your organization verified dependents. A Dependent Verification Review (DVR), or “data cleanse,” may be vital so unnecessary dependents, like ex-spouses, are not on your plan—potentially costing you thousands of dollars.
Typically, DVRs find a child who is no longer in the house or a recently divorced employee who hasn’t adjusted their family coverage. Understand the benefits of a Dependent Verification Review.
5. Do you have a reimbursement account strategy?
If you’re like many employers, you’ve recently switched to an HDHP. As the cost of health insurance increases, your employees may not have money saved to pay for a large deductible. To assist, many employers have added Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to help shoulder the increased deductibles. Some schools even contribute to their employees’ accounts to provide a break towards their deductible.
The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) requires the total Healthcare FSA election amount be available to the participant on the first day of the plan year. Because this may be difficult, we offer upfront funding. However, your organization could be at financial risk if employees leave before the plan year ends. To mitigate this risk, we offer optional insurance protection to cover the risk associated with required upfront reimbursement.
6. Do you have a plan for employees to update beneficiaries?
You probably offer group life insurance, or your employees may have an individual policy. Putting a plan in place to update beneficiaries, as well as educating your employees on the importance of staying up-to-date, will help prevent insurance proceeds from going to the wrong person.
One way we can help is by performing a DVR during your annual enrollment. While a DVR is primarily intended to ensure employers are not insuring ineligible dependents, we also take this time to review beneficiaries on all policies, update personal information, and more.
7. Are you collecting the appropriate forms during open enrollment?
To ensure you don’t miss any important documentation during the enrollment process, make sure you collect the following forms from your employees:
- 403b Plan “Universal Availability” form
- Waiver form if waiving health insurance. This document proves the employee was offered health insurance—a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Invest Time. Avoid Slipups.
If open enrollment goes poorly, it can cause a stressful year. By investing time earlier in your open enrollment planning, you can help prevent slipups before they occur. Considering the questions above can help you prepare for open enrollment season and lower the stress!
While there are many ways to prepare, we’re here to help. Visit americanfidelity.com for more information.
Lisa Stevens, Account Development Coordinator
Lisa Stevens serves as an Account Development Coordinator at American Fidelity. She has been with the company since 2010 and brings more than eight years of experience serving the education community.
In her role, Lisa works closely with school districts in Ohio and Michigan to help develop employee benefit plans that meet their needs. She often speaks to associations, business managers, and superintendents on topics such as Section 125 Plans, Affordable Care Act, High Deductible Plans, and HSAs.
Lisa is licensed in Life and Health and has her Series 6 and 63 licenses. She is known for her communication abilities and can simplify difficult topics and explain them in everyday language, making implementation and compliance much easier. Lisa was recently named the Account Development Coordinator of the year for American Fidelity.
1MRA: Benefits Enrollment Success Depends on Communication and Technology; October 26, 2016.