October 20, 2020

Open Enrollment Trends in 2021

Many organizations are in the process of preparing for their benefit open enrollment period. Given the current pandemic, both employees and employers will most likely have a very different process than in previous years.

A recent survey conducted by MetLife found that 74% of employees are concerned about at least one aspect of their well-being as a result of COVID-19, and 48% feel that this year’s open enrollment is more important than in 2019’s open enrollment. Additionally, 40% of respondents reported that they plan to spend more time selecting their benefits this year that they did in prior years. A survey conducted by Mercer listed the following top ten must-have benefits according to employees: 

  • Health Insurance (87%)
  • Auto Insurance (72%)
  • 401(k) or other (49%)
  • Dental (69%)
  • Home Insurance (65%)
  • Life Insurance (55%)
  • Vision (55%)
  • Disability Insurance (41%)
  • Accident Insurance (41%)
  • Pension Plan (37%)

As a result of the pandemic, employers that found themselves adding benefits like telemedicine and virtual office visits should be aware that such added benefits will continue to be a focus in 2021. More than one-fourth of employers surveyed by MetLife indicated that they will be adding or improving virtual services to their benefit offerings. According to Mercer, additional benefits on the horizon for 2021 include:

  • Voluntary benefits, like critical illness or hospital indemnity (22%)
  • Behavioral healthcare (20%)
  • Targeted health solutions, like programs to for diabetes (12%)
  • Support for complex cases (9%)

As always, effective communication is an integral part of open enrollment. In addition to providing clear and concise communications and documentation, employers may need to reassess their method of communication. With so many employees working remotely, it may be necessary to use tools like email, virtual enrollment meetings, apps and websites.   

Sources: SHRM, “Build Empathy into Your 2020 Open Enrollment Season” HRDive,“Most Employers Won't Turn to Healthcare Cost Shifting in 2021” Mercer, “Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans” 

HR/AA consultants are available to work with you on a project, interim or ongoing basis including assistance with understanding, implementing and administering best practices related to the current COVID-19 challenges we are facing.

For more information contact:
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