By Terri Mangrum, guest blogger

Open enrollment is a bit like the holiday season in that we know it’s coming, but we never seem to be ready. Preparing for the offering of employee benefits takes a village of professionals, and the coordination and communication between these professionals is critical for a smooth experience.

So, who’s at the open enrollment table?

It’s a big table. Those involved in open enrollment can include business owners or managers, human resources staff, insurance brokers, payroll processors, and third-party administrators.

The insurance broker is a very important guest at the table. The broker will engage with all applicable insurance carriers and will negotiate the rates and plan designs of the insurance policies that the employer wishes to offer. Plans offered can vary and be numerous, such as medical, dental, vision, life, disability, and ancillary policies, such as cancer, accident, and critical illness. There may also be multiple brokers involved.

Third party administrators can include several service providers, such as benefit administrators, HSA banking institutions, COBRA, and flexible spending account and payroll service vendors.

Once the benefit offerings are chosen, the next step is to communicate with and educate the employees. This can be done in various ways, such as online enrollment platforms, benefit packets, presentations, and webinars. Following this part of the process will be the actual enrollment period where employees select the plans.

When the enrollment period is complete, it’s time for the behind the scenes magic. The enrollment data is provided to the various insurance carriers. This is typically coordinated between the employer’s human resources staff and the insurance broker. The broker will work with the carriers to enroll all employees in their coverages at the levels elected. If additional information or documentation is needed, the broker will coordinate this communication.

This entire open enrollment process must be done prior to the effective date of the new plan year. The carriers need time to get all employees installed into their systems and any applicable insurance cards mailed to employees. Lastly, all elections affect payroll when an employee pays a portion of or all the insurance premium. Adjustments to employee payroll deductions must be made before the first payroll of the new plan year.

Are you prepared for open enrollment season?

Open enrollment season can be unnerving for employers and their employees. However, partnering with confident professionals can provide both with a smooth and more positive experience. Our team at LBMC Employment Partners is equipped and ready to help employers navigate the tedious process of open enrollment. Connect with us today to learn how you can ease the burden.