The future of open enrollment is here
Over the next few weeks, millions of employees will have the opportunity to make benefits decisions that either improve their overall financial well-being or maintain the status quo. For those of us who have been in the industry long enough, it’s no surprise that Americans would rather spend their time shopping for Black Friday deals rather than revisiting their benefit options. We never made it easy enough.
However, the pandemic has changed all that. For employers, the hub to remote work last year created a mad rush to prepare for a virtual and digital open enrollment season. For employees, it increased employee awareness of financial resiliency and contingency preparedness. With reports of medical bankruptcies and high medical bills, is it any surprise that hospital insurance is suddenly much more attractive than in previous years? The job at hand, for brokers and carriers, is to make sure employers and employees understand what it is, how it can help, and why they should consider signing up.
Related: Times Are Changing (As Is Open Registration)
In addition to reinventing open enrollment, the pandemic forced carriers to speed up timelines and work faster to upgrade voluntary benefit offerings and features, as well as to introduce new benefit technology offerings that would respond. better to the needs of our customers. And that’s what makes open registration so exciting this year.
Here’s what we can expect to see:
Emphasis on education for voluntary benefits
With the shift to remote work and / or hybrid models, the need for stronger benefit communications is more important than ever. Guardian research has consistently shown the need for improvement is there. Now, with the growing interest in voluntary benefits, employee education is even more critical during the open enrollment season, especially since the average employee doesn’t understand how voluntary benefits help or work. For example, our Guardian Workplace Benefits study found that most organizations that added coverage added medical insurance (55%), but more than a third (36%) of employers who added benefits chose to ” add life insurance and hospitalization insurance. And if employees don’t understand it, they’re unlikely to sign up.
You may also like
It bodes well for the broker to take a closer look at the registration materials offered by carriers and determine if they are employee-centric, bilingual, and designed in a way that helps the everyday consumer understand the benefits offered. With all the channels available, benefit communications should no longer rely on single sheets alone. The educational video series are designed to do just that – they educate employees about the value of products like accident insurance, critical illness, life insurance, and do it in an easy-to-understand way. The goal is to make them accessible, to use simple terms and to help employees make informed decisions.
We’re also seeing virtual benefits consultants who are available to employees who need help with open registration. By working with a broker, an employer can make this service available to their employees, which can really make a difference given their 1: 1 consultative style.
New digital registration experience
Before the pandemic, adoption of benefit technology was already on the rise. However, the widespread shift to remote working has meant open enrollment was different for most businesses in 2020, prompting many more organizations to embrace benefit administration and enrollment technology. Our research showed that 72% of employees who said they were happy with their benefits experience said they signed up digitally.
This year is no different, if not more advanced. With API integrations and cloud-based AI technology, ease of administration of benefits and enrollment has never been easier. For example, with AI technology, platforms like Nayya are leveraging artificial intelligence and data science to simplify the benefits enrollment experience. The platform – available in English and Spanish – provides employees with a decision support tool that gives them the confidence to select the benefits that are right for them. Other benefit solutions, such as Flock, allow employers to benefit from enhanced data connections, including the use of real-time API data exchange, as well as seamless integration with Nayya for the decision support during registration.
This can be a game-changer for employees who have always struggled with open registration. With the help of an avatar and the ability to provide relevant information, such as their location, household demographics, and lifestyle, employees can receive plan options within minutes. The decision support tools for open enrollment have arrived, and we see first-hand the growing interest in making them available to employers.
There is no doubt that the world has changed around us and registration has also opened. The mindset of consumers has been the most significant change due to what happened to them like high-deductible health plans and a pandemic that exposed their financial vulnerabilities. With the growing interest in voluntary benefits and mental health resources, the role of benefits is clearly a priority for employees looking to increase their overall financial well-being. It’s up to us to have the technology, tools and channels available to make it easy and accessible for them.
Unless otherwise noted, the research / data in this signature is from the 10th Inflection Point of Guardian’s Annual Workplace Benefits Study. The material discussed is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as tax, legal or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations may vary. Therefore, information should only be relied on when coordinated with individual professional advice. Nayya and Flock are not subsidiaries or affiliates of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.
The advertised services are provided by Nayya, an independent third party service provider which is not a subsidiary or affiliate of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Guardian is not responsible or liable for any services, advice or recommendations provided by Nayya 2021-128090 (Exp. 10/23)