As this post is being written, the 2023 open enrollment season is just about two months away. This year’s open enrollment will be similar to what we’ve seen in past years, at least in terms of how difficult it is to administer when technology isn’t involved. Yet the
opposite is also true. When employers and benefits brokers utilize digital technologies, especially online open enrollment, administration is much easier.
How Online Open Enrollment Works
For starters, let us talk about how online open enrollment works. Dallas-based Benefit Mall explains that it starts with an online portal brokers make available to employees through their employers. Every employee eligible for benefits has their own online account for administrative purposes.
When open enrollment begins, the employee logs onto their account and begins to make selections – one at a time. Every selection requires the user to input certain information. Only when that information is complete can they move on to the next selection.
Once all the selections have been made, the process is complete. Savvy employees familiar with online portals can complete the entire process in mere minutes. They can also do it on their own time, even if that means 3 o’clock in the morning. Employees do not have to follow HR department schedules.
Online Eliminates the Paperwork
Prior to open enrollment going online, paperwork ruled the process. Every selection and employee made came with a form to be completed and the signature to be added. All that paperwork was HR’s biggest nightmare. Why? Because receiving incomplete packets was the norm.
Any organization that still utilizes paper open enrollment is still dealing with these problems. Such problems are nearly unheard of in the online realm. A well-designed platform not only eliminates paperwork, but it also eliminates incomplete enrollment.
Open Enrollment Is More Efficient
Open enrollment is more efficient online from the employee’s perspective too. Let us go back to eliminating all those paper forms. With an online portal, certain employee information is carried from one document to the next. An employee does not have to enter his address five times. He doesn’t have to type in his Social Security number over and over.
Carrying employee information across all forms makes the process more efficient. An employee needs to provide personal information once and it’s applied to every benefit selection. That leaves employees with the fairly simple task of making selections and supplying a minimal amount of additional information as needed.
Everyone Is Used To It
The most important thing in this whole discussion is the fact that everyone is used to doing things online anyway. The strange thing is that employee benefits are one of the last areas of the business sector to complete the digital transformation. Everywhere else, the transformations pretty much done.
People are already used to banking online. The majority of us make deposits, pay our bills, balance our accounts, and do our taxes online. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface. We do a whole host of other things online including:
- making medical appointments.
- renewing our driver’s licenses.
- shopping and ordering food.
- scheduling auto maintenance.
- booking travel and accommodation.
The list goes on and on. The point is that we are all used to living our lives online. Most of us are very comfortable with completing online application forms and signing digital signatures. Making open enrollment selections online is no big deal.
Online open enrollment is a different kind of enrollment. It is faster, more efficient, and a ton easier to administer. Why any company would not move open enrollment online is a mystery.