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Questions to Expect from Employees During Open Enrollment

For employees, open enrollment can be a stressful time as they try to navigate the different options, figure out how all the plans work and what they all cost, and decide which to select.

Employees often come to their employer armed with lots of questions about the process, about the choices they have to make, about terminology and about costs.

When entering open enrollment season, it’s important to be ready to answer these questions, or to be proactive in communicating answers, since a smoother enrollment process can fundamentally affect employees’ productivity.

Here are five important employee questions that you need to be ready to answer during open enrollment.

‘Which Plan Options Are Best for Me?’

Giving employees a variety of options — HDHPs, HMOs, PPOs, HSAs and FSAs — is a great way to ensure that they get the coverage that’s appropriate for their needs. Having so many options, however, can also lead to a lot of questions as employees try to understand the various terms, determine how each option is different and figure out what best aligns with their individual needs and circumstances.

‘How Will the HDHP Work When I Get to the Doctor?’

High-deductible health plans have become commonplace offerings for employers seeking to lower their costs and give employees more control over their health care. But communication about these plans is crucial. Employees not only will ask about how to use an HDHP with their providers, but also how to use it with a health savings account and how it applies to their spouses and children.

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‘What Is an HSA? What Happens to My HSA Funds If I Don’t Use Them?’

HSAs are paired with HDHPs to help pay for medical expenses, but they come with complex rules — and a potential tax hit for misusing them — so employees often find them confusing. It’s important to educate employees about how HSAs work and where they’re eligible.

‘Which Family Members Can I Cover?’

From unmarried partners to adult children to aging parents, the definition of family is fluid for many employees. There will be questions from employees during open enrollment about who can be covered by their benefits and how.

‘How Do I Find Providers?’

Although finding a health provider is a year-round issue for employees, open enrollment is a common time for questions about how to find doctors and other medical providers, particularly in plans with limitations on choosing out-of-network providers. Employers should be ready to steer employees to tools that can help them make the best decisions.

How You Answer These Questions Matters

These are just five of the common questions that are likely to come up during an open enrollment period. Chances are that there will be many more. As an employer you could, in theory direct the employees to contact the health insurance company directly to get answers to questions you may not be able to fully explain.

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However, the chances are that they won’t, and they will continue to be confused about the use of their benefits and therefore the true value of them. Instead, take the time to discover the information yourself. Your insurance representative will be happy to help you and you can become the expert source of information that your employees expect you to be – and maybe even get more out of your own healthcare coverage at the same time

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