Low Enrollment Readiness Scores Highlight Need for Timely Benefit Plan Selections According to EBA's OERB

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“We’re at a point in time where the adviser and the client have pretty much defined the plan design for the 2018 open enrollment period,” one expert says.

Workforce demographics are a key consideration since different types of plans are better suited to different types of employees.

Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark (OERB) score for February came in at just 35 for employers with first-quarter benefit start dates. This poor showing was somewhat tempered by slightly better marks for plan selection, with employers awarding themselves scores of 49 for health plans, 45 for voluntary plans and 49 for pharmacy plan selections.

For benefit advisers this is significant, because March is when employers should be choosing plans for their forthcoming benefits enrollment if they hope to keep pace with the 12-month open enrollment preparation process that most benefit experts recommend.

For advisers and clients following this process, “We’re at a point in time where the adviser and the client have pretty much defined the plan design for the 2018 open enrollment period,” says Jack Kwicien, a managing partner at Daymark Advisors, a Baltimore consultancy that works with advisers. “The next step is for the adviser to determine how the employer can offer a full range of benefit options to its employees.”

Plan selection, Kwicien says, should be based on a thorough analysis of the employee population’s demographics and how employees have been utilizing their current roster of benefits. The results should serve as the basis for an RFP sent to multiple carriers to ensure employers not only receive the best price, but also the best possible coverage and quality of service for their workforces.

“Workforce demographics are a key consideration,” adds EBA Editorial Director Scott Wenger, “since different types of plans are better suited to different types of employees. A highly educated and well-compensated workforce in an industry like healthcare or technology, for instance, may appreciate the tax advantages of a health savings account and how it can offset the costs incurred with a high-deductible health plan.”

In contrast, Wenger says, less well-educated employees may have difficulty understanding how an HSA works and view an HDHP simply as a way for an employer to cut costs at their expense.

The OERB tallies employer self-assessments in 26 activities that need to be completed in four key stages for a successful open enrollment, with no progress receiving a score of zero and completed tasks earning a score of 100. The open enrollment period, which usually takes place in the fall, is a critical time for employers as they look to engage their staffs in health and retirement planning.

The Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark is a data-based performance benchmark that gauges how prepared employers are for their annual employee benefits enrollment periods. The benchmark is sponsored by ADP. To produce the results, SourceMedia Research and EBA each month survey more than 400 prescreened HR and benefits executives at organizations of various sizes and across multiple industries. These professionals are asked to rate their completion levels for 26 activities — from selecting health plans to reviewing enrollment metrics — that take place during the four critical phases of open enrollment: benefit plan design, enrollment preparation, employee enrollment and post-enrollment analysis. Scores range from a low of zero to a high of 100 and reflect the degree to which an employer considers itself prepared for a particular activity. The activity scores are then averaged to determine scores for each of the four phases and an overall readiness score. A complete analysis of the most recent OERB data is available here.

About Employee Benefit Adviser
Employee Benefit Adviser (EBA) is the information resource for employee benefit advisers, brokers, agents and consultants, providing the current awareness and perspective they need to anticipate changes in the marketplace and optimally serve their clients. EBA delivers a broad range of critical content, including comparative market data, legal and regulatory updates, the latest products and services, and best practices in benefits delivery — including health insurance, vision and dental insurance, and voluntary and retirement benefits. The benefits broker community relies on EBA to stay connected through its website comment forums, its social media communities and live events.

About SourceMedia Research
SourceMedia Research is a full-service B2B market research service that draws upon SourceMedia’s market expertise and proprietary database of engaged executives to develop information and insights for clients. SourceMedia Research provides research solutions for marketers, agencies and others targeting sectors such as banking, payments, mortgage, accounting, employee benefits and wealth management.

About SourceMedia
SourceMedia, an Observer Capital company, is an innovative, growing digital business information and performance media company serving senior-level professionals in the financial, technology and healthcare sectors. Brands include American Banker, PaymentsSource, The Bond Buyer, Financial Planning, Accounting Today, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Mortgage News, Employee Benefit News and Health Data Management.

About ADP
Powerful technology plus a human touch. Companies of all types and sizes around the world rely on ADP’s cloud software and expert insights to help unlock the potential of their people. HR. Talent. Benefits. Payroll. Compliance. Working together to build a better workforce. For more information, visit http://www.adp.com.

For more information, please contact:

Dana Jackson                                        

Scott Wenger

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