Fall is underway and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the fun seasonal activities like tailgating, pumpkin picking and holiday festivals. In many ways, fall is also the time to plan ahead for your health coverage.

For companies who begin their fiscal year on January 1, which accounts for about 40 to 50 percent of employers, most renew their employee benefits in the fall. This means open enrollment is fast approaching for many. Open enrollment is the period of time each year when employers work with staff members to prepare their health insurance plans for the upcoming fiscal year. This includes renewing employees’ existing plans, signing up for a new plan or making changes to their existing coverage.

While open enrollment happens in the fall for many companies, it’s important to remember the following tips for a successful enrollment process, no matter what time of year your company’s fiscal year begins.

Communicate the 5 C’s.

To ease the process for everyone and quell any confusion or speculation, remember to communicate the following with your employees: Cost, Coverage, Changes to plans, Comparisons to last year’s plans and Current options.

Maintain transparency.

Be transparent and direct when discussing health benefits, especially if employees are facing cost increases in their coverage. Also, communicate with them the importance of taking advantage of wellness benefits and preventative care screenings that are in included in their plan. Keeping your employees informed will help them prepare better for the coming year and maintain their health and wellness.

Consider going digital.

There are many online services popping up each day to ease and expedite the enrollment process. Electronic enrollment offers paperless and e-signature capabilities that will actually save you and your employees from the precious hours it previously took you to fill out overwhelming piles of paperwork.

If you are not part of a group plan, for instance through an employer, and you’re filing for health insurance as an individual, keep in mind that open enrollment for individual health care plans for 2018 is from November 1 to December 15, 2017, which is half the length of previous years.

Open enrollment for both employers and individuals does not have to be as stressful as it sounds. With online services, such as Maxwell Health, a company can seamlessly integrate its health care benefits package, from dental and vision to short-term and long-term disability. They offer an easy-to-use benefits administration system that simplifies the open enrollment process and allows employees to pick and choose what benefits best fit with their unique lifestyle. And since people only have six weeks to complete open enrollment this year, the ability to save time by managing all the paperwork digitally is a win-win!

Additionally, amid the ongoing uncertainty and complications of the nation’s health care legislation, digital HR platforms will oversee that your company is compliant with the most current requirements and regulations, no matter how complex. With built-in communication tools and alerts, employers and HR managers can easily send their team the latest updates on health care and employee rights.

By using an integrated online system to manage your company’s benefits, open enrollment this year will be a breeze.

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