Active vs. Passive Enrollment: Which One is Right For Your Company?

David Rook

Open enrollment is a very busy time of the year for companies both large and small. Employers can approach employee benefits open enrollment in one of two ways: active or passive enrollment. Active enrollment means that employees MUST re-evaluate their previous benefit choices and elect from current options for the upcoming year. Passive enrollment allows employees to simply re-enroll in their current choices with little or no involvement in the open enrollment process.

So what are the pros and cons of active vs. passive enrollment?

Passive Enrollment

According to the most recent (albeit very dated) survey available, 72% of U.S. employers prefer passive enrollment over active enrollment. Why is that? Well, for starters, it's simply easier on both ends. Employees can check off a box re-selecting their previous year's health insurance choices, and employers have less of an administrative burden to deal with, especially if plans remain relatively the same. A passive approach saves time for both employees and employers.

But does simple mean better? With benefits trending more and more towards consumer-driven health plans, a passive enrollment does not work well alongside that type of benefits approach. 

According to a 2016 Open Enrollment survey by Aflac, over half of employees (54%) claim that they waste up to $750 per year on poor decisions related to insurance benefits. Passive enrollment is basically an invitation to continue making the same benefit election mistakes of the past, and it allows for a path of least resitance which cheats employees from an opportunity to reflect, reevaluate and reeducate themselves on what works best for their families. Life situations can change yearly, whether it's divorce, marriage, adoption, the birth of child, maturing dependents or significant health changes. An auto pilot approach to this simplly isn't beneficial to employees or employers.

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Topics: passive enrollment, open enrollment, active enrollment, Strategy

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4 Ways to Spice Up Employee Benefits Open Enrollment Meetings

David Rook

Autumn is here, the leaves are changing, and before you know it, a new year will start. For many employers, that means annual benefits open enrollment meetings. But it seems like every year, it’s more difficult to get employees to attend the meetings, pay attention, and learn how they can make the most of their benefits.

All the while, the push to consumer-driven healthcare is making things more complicated. From HSAs and HDHPs to HRAs and Limited Purpose FSAs, how are employees supposed to take full advantage of the great benefits you offer if they don't take the time to learn about these new products and services? Perhaps it’s time to try something new to spice up your annual open enrollment.

Here are some benefits open enrollment ideas you might want to try:

1. Go Digital.

For better or worse, mobile devices are in our hands throughout the day. Take advantage of this and reach out to your employees through one or several streams.

  • Send a text message telling employees that open enrollment is coming and reminding them to read their product literature and talk to their spouses so they’ll be ready to enroll.
  • Ask them questions via email beforehand, as well as during the meeting. Try a Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, or Google Forms format to engage employees and encourage participation. These tools allow employees to answer questions anonymously while you tally responses. This is a great way to find out, in real time, which topics merit more attention, especially if employees demonstrate a lack of understanding about a particular benefit.
  • Use social media to engage staff. Tweet employee meeting information with a call to action in 140 characters or less. Share videos or articles explaining complex topics such as HSAs and HDHPs on Facebook or LinkedIn. Use Facebook Live to present and discuss information, then interact with remote employees who are watching online.
  • Use your company blog to explain different aspects of your benefits portfolio and how many of them are designed to work together. Be sure to allow questions and comments on the blog and make sure to be attentive and responsive to employee concerns. Have different people on your leadership team write blog posts from different points of view. A CFO will have different information to share than an HR Director or even a CEO.
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Topics: Employee Engagement, open enrollment

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