Welcome to our Open Enrollment series.  Throughout the upcoming posts you will learn how to successfully navigate the open enrollment renewal process.  Today, we’re talking about five key things you need to know for open enrollment:

  1. Review! Don’t Just Renew

Let’s do some simple math.  If you still have the same plan from 2013 when plans were “grandmothered” at a standard increase of 10% your plan has increased over 70% from those original rates!  So a plan you paid $10,000 per year you are now paying over $17,000 per year!

Taking the time to review your options and see if there are better options out there puts money back in your pocket.  Even if you have no desire to change plans competitive rates from another carrier give you negotiating power with your grandmothered plan and possibly lowering your renewal rate!

  1. There are new products in the market for small businesses

The last few years have welcomed MEWAs (Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement) plans to Ohio.  These plans are medically underwritten and have significant cost savings over Affordable Care Act Plans, individual plans without subsidy, and many grandmothered and grandfathered plans.

Some of these plans require membership into industry sectors such as the Ohio State Medical Association or the Ohio Farm Bureas; however, some require a simple chamber membership to COSE, the Canton Chamber of Commerce, or others.  In addition, some plans are available for sole proprietors which means there are now alternatives to those high cost individual plan!

New products also means competition for business which leads to more appealing rates for consumers.  If you have been holding off shopping the market, now is the time!

  1. As the job market tightens employees are paying more attention to their benefits

Health Insurance benefits are usually the second highest employer cost concerning employees behind payroll.  According to Glassdoor, employees surveyed believe that health insurance is the most important benefit they receive. As the job market tightens having an attractive benefit package to attract and retain key talent is necessary.

According to a survey conducted by MetLife, 71% of employees believe health insurance benefits are a key part of employee satisfaction.  Health benefits ranked even higher as a job satisfaction component than having a retirement plan!  Now is the time to take a good look at your benefits and make sure you are maximizing every dollar spent!

  1. Not all insurance carriers are created equal

Insurance carriers are continuing to make changes to their networks adding and removing doctors and hospitals.  Having a plan with a diverse network may be beneficial to you and your employees.  At the same time, a narrow network may be more cost effective, and if you are already using included doctors and hospitals may not be as difficult a transition as you thought.  It’s important to note significant network differences when making a health insurance change so there are no surprises in your coverage year.

In addition, many carriers handle prescriptions, lab tests, and other covered events differently.  The plan you have may require a copay while the plan you are comparing may have costs track toward your deductible.  Having someone who can help you understand the options as well as help you navigate if you change carriers is important. A good agent can help you understand how your benefits work and explain the differences between carriers.

  1. Time is Critical

Most health insurance coverage renews January 1!  This means carriers are going to be very busy with proposal requests, renewals, changes, and new enrollments.  Last year we saw the average time for a proposal from key carriers move from two business days to fifteen!  That’s a three week wait!  As the holidays creep closer time becomes even more precious.  Many groups that made decisions at the end of December waited until February for their ID Cards and to be loaded into a carrier’s system.  That’s a long time to be waiting for care!

If you want to ensure a smooth transition and have ample time to make changes, start the shopping process as soon as rates are available!  Part of the responsibility lies on the employer and employees to get all of their information into Formfire for quoting.  Getting this done will allow you to jump into the proposal queue for carriers as soon as they release their rates!  Don’t procrastinate!