Open enrollment for small businesses deals with the insurance that you sponsor for your employees. It’s a period (Nov 1 to Dec 15) where they can change or elect their policies and the coverage that covers their dependence. For small businesses, open enrollment is critical because it helps them to put together their budgets and incentivize prospects and existing employees with health care.
ACA Open Enrollment 2019
Marcie O’Dwyer, VP of Strategic Relationships at SyncStream Solutions, filled us in on what small business needs to know. She told us recently via email how this particular open enrollment period serves several purposes.
Why It Matters
“Open enrollment gives small businesses the opportunity to showcase the health plans they’re offering to valued employees and their families,” she writes. “It can also be relevant as an educational opportunity to discuss employee wellness from a holistic approach. Lastly, open enrollment allows newly qualified employees to enroll in the company’s health plan and insured employees to make changes to plan elections.”
When It Starts and Ends
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is where the idea got started. The Open Enrollment period this year is about participating in and picking coverage from the Federal Marketplace. Open Enrollment started Nov. 1 and runs until Dec. 15 for individuals and companies looking for their coverages for policies starting in January 2019.
O’Dwyer explains how these dates are set for small businesses and why the effective date is so important.
“The open enrollment period for an employer-sponsored health plan is determined by the effective date of the insurance contract, which is determined between the insurance carrier and the employer. Open enrollment is typically 30 days prior to and 30 days after the established effective date.”
Why the ACA Is Still Important
O’Dwyer also explains that even though there still some uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that law will remain in effect for this open enrollment and the rest of 2019. She stresses that although there’s been some talk about the present administration repealing the ACA, it still falls to employers to continue the open enrollment process and offer health care the employees who qualify.
Beyond the uncertainties swirling around ACA, there are a few important benchmarks that small businesses will need to consider to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. First and foremost, they will need to make sure the employees know about any plan changes that could affect their decisions.
“Additionally, insurers have participation requirements for some employer-sponsored coverages,” O’Dwyer writes. “For instance, if an employer does not have enough employees enrolled in the insurance coverage, the insurer’s requirement might not be met and the policy will not be issued. Participation requirements vary by carrier and policy. “
Put in the Effort
She also says it’s critical to enroll the largest number of employees to spread the risk as wide as possible. Not putting the effort in getting big numbers in open enrollment can have consequences.
“An unsuccessful enrollment can impact employee retention and morale, and a lack of participation can have negative effects on the whole employer plan, including the potential for plan cancellation.”
Conduct Onsite Meetings
It’s important to make sure that you engage the carrier representative and your broker and have on-site meetings with your employees. This will help to spur on participation.
Be Transparent About Costs
Finally, O’Dwyer stresses that small businesses should not hide anything about the kinds of plan changes that can tinker with their employees cost sharing.
“To help avoid this, employers should encourage supervisors and managers to speak with employees about participation costs, the employer paid portion of the plan premium, and open enrollment deadlines,” she writes.