Open enrollment is a critical undertaking for HR teams, and it rightfully consumes a lot of time and attention during the course of the annual benefits cycle. But the period between the end of open enrollment and the start of the new benefit year is another important, often overlooked, opportunity for benefits leaders as well. Now is the time to step in and help your employee get the most out of their current benefits offerings before programs reset and prepare them to use their new benefits in the year ahead.
Following open enrollment, which often involves in-depth presentations, office hours, and communications to employees, it’s best to keep your end-of-year benefits communications simple. Employees need to know what action items they should complete and when they should do them. That’s where checklists come in handy. To-do lists are straightforward for your team to put together and can help employees get organized and stay on track with their health goals as they wrap up one benefits year and transition into the next.
Two basic health benefits checklists you can put together for your employees are:
- One to help them take full advantage of the benefits available to them before the current benefit year ends
- One to help them make informed healthcare decisions for the upcoming benefit year
Here are two sample checklists you can use as a starting place and adapt for your company’s specific program needs.
Checklist #1: Maximizing In-Year Health Benefits
Before the benefit year ends, here are a few action items to take to make sure you get the most out of your insurance, FSA, and other healthcare offerings.
- If you’re behind on annual screenings (for example, mammograms or colonoscopies), schedule an appointment to take place before the end of the benefit year.
- Make sure you (and any family members on your plan) are up to date on immunizations and vaccinations.
- See your primary care physician for an annual wellness exam, and make sure your family members do too.
- Take care of any procedures or tests you’ve been putting off, like blood work or other lab tests recommended by your doctor.
- Take advantage of your vision benefits, including exams, contract refills, or ordering new glasses.
- Get in for a semi-annual dental cleaning. It's free with most dental plans!
- Refill any prescriptions, especially if you have a chronic or acute condition, to avoid any possible delays if you’re switching doctors or plans in the new year.
- Max out your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) pre-tax dollars before they expire. A lot of items are eligible for FSAs—more than you may think. A few examples include:
- Alternative healthcare like acupuncture or chiropractic care
- Mental health appointments
- Medical supplies such as vitamins, first-aid kits, and over-the-counter medications
Checklist #2: Planning for the New Benefit Year
Before the new benefit year begins, here are a few housekeeping items to take care of so you start your healthcare routine off right.
- Review your statement of benefits coverage (SBC) to familiarize yourself with what’s covered under your plan.
- Look at deductibles/out-of-pocket amounts to know how much you’re responsible for financially in the coming year.
- Get clear on any healthcare plan changes and make necessary adjustments (e.g., choosing new doctors, finding new pharmacies, locating your nearest in-network hospital and urgent care, etc.).
- Explore your HSA (health savings account) and FSA (flexible spending account) account options, particularly if this is your first time signing up.
- Explore any new healthcare benefits, including telemedicine options, mental health apps, and chronic condition management programs. Make sure your dependents sign up for services available to them as well.
By clearly communicating the timing and tasks employees should take to prepare themselves for the end of one benefit year and the start of the next, you’ll be taking great strides toward helping employees make informed healthcare decisions and feel prepared for the year ahead.