The Future of Benefits Enrollment is Here

BY CHRIS DELLA SALA

AS COVID-19 CONTINUES to grip the U.S., employers aren’t the only ones whose views have been altered as it relates to the importance of offering strong benefits. Employees are seeking assurance that their employer is going to offer a more responsible way to learn about and enroll in the benefit offerings designed to protect them.

There is no doubt COVID-19 has accelerated the desire for employers to expedite their natural shift to a contactless enrollment approach. And with so many Americans continuing to work from home, contactless technology is more relevant today than it ever has been. This need has employers desperately seeking affordable online solutions that will effectively engage and educate their remote  employees during benefits enrollment season.

When you think about what most benefits technology platforms were built for, you realize those systems were built to support one primary activity—to block and tackle data. They were not built to deliver  a high-quality user experience when it comes to things like multimedia or custom, high-resolution educational videos. With employers looking to accommodate a contact-free enrollment this enrollment season, it is crucial to engage a benefits technology partner who has pioneered this enrollment approach. So, what should a benefits technology partner provide for an online, open enrollment to be successful?
That’s easy: a full turnkey solution that addresses communication, engagement, education, enrollment and administration.

What exactly should a contactless enrollment platform do? It should:

  • Provide consistent, engaging communication
  • Support core and voluntary benefit offerings
  • Provide easy-to-understand, personalized education on core and voluntary benefits offerings
  • Provide an integrated, data-analytics driven decision support tool
  • Deliver seamless data exchange between carriers and payroll
  • Offer a robust on-demand reporting system

CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION:

Benefit experts know when it comes to rolling out new products or processes for employees, effective and engaging communication is critical. When choosing your benefits technology partner, make sure their model consists of a comprehensive communications campaign that informs your client’s workforce about the upcoming open enrollment and benefit offerings. This communication campaign should immediately begin engaging your client’s workforce by way of dynamic electronic messaging on the employer’s behalf without exposing any private health information. And it should occur through modern means that most employees readily have access to, such as e-mail and text messaging.

SUPPORT CORE & VOLUNTARY OFFERINGS:

Building a benefits package that appeals to a diverse workforce at every stage in life can be challenging for many. Having a diverse catalog of voluntary benefits that include critical illness, accident and hospital coverage is desired, but what is the point if the enrollment technology does not support them? When transitioning to an online enrollment platform, be sure the technology platform can manage all the voluntary benefit offerings.

EASY ED ON CORE & VOLUNTARY BENEFITS:

Statistics show that traditionally only two out of 10 people feel they understand the benefits offered to them and 40% feel stressed when enrolling in their benefits. This is unfortunate as benefits are supposed to be good. So, why the dismal results? The answer is simple. We’ve been trying to educate people about their benefits over the past 20 to 30 years using methods that don’t resonate with them. Whether attending group meetings where they receive very high-level generic presentations or sifting through cumbersome benefits booklets provided by their employer, these methods don’t work when nearly 90% of the population are visual learners!

     Consider this: our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than written text, and 80% of written content goes unread—which is not good when it comes to something as important as benefits. People consume information differently, so delivering it in a way that can be  easily understood and accessed during their decision making will make for more confident decision making. Studies show that consumers are less likely to question their personal buying decision when made after conducting their own education as opposed to those individuals who received coaching by a benefits enroller, whether in person or by phone. That being the case, your benefits technology partner should provide a benefits enrollment approach that consists of engaging tools and educational videos, in both English and Spanish, that utilize behavioral science for a more personalized enrollment experience for every benefit offering and employee class available.

INTEGRATED DECISION SUPPORT TOOL:

Several decision-support tools exist; however, the majority come with a price-tag, are fragmented, and operate separately from the actual enrollment technology itself. It is in your best interest to have a benefits technology partner with an integrated decision support tool that utilizes data analytics and machine learning technology to provide the enrollee with custom plan suggestions. The suggestions should also show enrollees how their benefits are designed to work together, in addition to how much they are paying and what they are paying for.

SEAMLESS DATA EXCHANGE:

Select a partner known for simplifying the data exchange process to carriers and vendors. It is important to have the pipes connected for an easy flow of data amongst existing partnerships which is guaranteed to save time and money—as well as improve HR and administration efficiencies.

ROBUST ON-DEMAND REPORTING:

Lastly, employers should be able to access their benefits data when and how they want. Running reports on-demand should be a native service for human resource managers so that they have the power to manage their company’s benefits. It is after all their data.

As great as this sounds, it is impossible to ignore the fact that many people still like to go along with the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” outlook when it comes to their benefits enrollment approach. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made it very clear that the traditional enrollment approaches are just not sensible options in this climate.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ENROLLMENT:

Furthermore, I would argue that with many Americans sharing fears and concerns about their health in this environment, the next open enrollment is the most important one yet, as employees want to know how they’re protected.

Technological advancements along with major shifts in customer expectations  have accelerated the use and  the  need for contactless technology. Those that  have been in the insurance industry for a while are amazed by the technological advancements over the past decade alone! Some may see the merging of insurance and technology as a disruption in the industry. I encourage you to take a step back and embrace the never- ending capabilities! New technology developments have enabled benefits enrollment to be 100% online. This evolution has enhanced the enrollment experience and has opened the door to finding new ways of increasing enrollees’ comprehension of their health benefits.

With other industries moving forward in technology and with the influx of millennials in the workplace, the insurance industry landscape will likely do away with the traditional enrollment approaches and quickly provide access to a plethora of on-demand services. As the millennial generation continues to infiltrate the corporate infrastructure, there is becoming more of a need to extend enrollment access so that benefits are accessible anywhere, at any time when using a mobile responsive enrollment platform. Enrollees are counting on their employer to provide them with the tools to make the decision that best benefits them and their family’s well-being. On the flipside, your clients are looking to you, their consultant, to help them transition to the best contactless enrollment solution.

Change is inevitable. Enrolling into health benefits using contactless technology is not a fad or a bandwagon that people have jumped on. Contactless enrollment is, without a doubt, the future of benefits enrollment.

CHRIS DELLA SALA

serves as the VP of Sales at TBX®, an enrollment  technology firm specializing in no-cost, contactless, self-serve enrollments. Chris recently joined TBX® after more than 8 years at Colonial  Life, where  he served in various capacities, including leading the Southern California, Orange County-based sales organization and most recently, the Large-group Practice Leader for the South- west U.S. His vision for TBX is to serve as the premier broker partner, go-to techno- logical enrollment platform, and ultimately disrupt the industry’s mindset on enroll-ment technology and capabilities. Originally from Texas, Chris currently resides in Irvine, California. He can be contacted at Chris@TBXBenefits.com.