Open Enrollment: Managing Employee Expectations

Open Enrollment is an exciting time. It is a chance for you to review the benefits you offer to your employees, and make changes or additions. It is also a time for your employees to make decisions about their insurance plans for the coming year. Remember, employees will be not be able to enroll in your group health plan if they waive coverage during open enrollment, unless they have a qualifying event. It is therefore important for you and your employees to have regular communication, especially if you’re going to be making changes to your plans.

Open Enrollment can also be a stressful time for your employees, as plan changes come into effect and premiums increase. This can lead to confusion and dissatisfaction. It is important that you keep in regular communication with your employees, so you can manage expectations and resolve complaints before they turn into larger problems. In order to keep your employees happy, and ensure that you have a successful open enrollment, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you out!

Talking About Premium Increases

One of the inevitable points of contention during open enrollment is the increasing cost of insurance. This mostly concerns health insurance, but applies to dental and other voluntary benefits as well. Premium increases occur during open enrollment, and premiums are often a top concern for employees. Further, they will certainly notice when they are paying more for their premiums than they were the year before.

First, it is important to address these concerns by ensuring your employees know that you have shopped the market. Much of this is done by your broker, but we keep in touch as we look across different carriers and plans. It can also be useful to demonstrate the pricing on the individual market, which is typically more expensive than group insurance. Finally, by encouraging preventative care, employees stay healthier, which affects the overall premium cost.

Benefit Concerns

With benefit changes, there is always an initial amount of uncertainty among employees as they are unsure what their new benefits will be. Particularly compared to the old benefits package, employees may express dissatisfaction over rates (as discussed previously), network and service coverage, and customer support. During these times it is important to make sure that employees stay informed of the changes so they feel as though they are in the loop. Benefit meetings, both on a group and individual level, go a long way toward educating your employees and easing their concerns.

If you are changing carriers, be sure to highlight the benefits that the change will mean. These could be a lower premium, a wider network, or a richer benefit. If the provider network will be changing, work with your employees and your broker to make sure that they have access to an in-network provider they trust. And if the coverage benefit is changing, be sure to highlight the premium savings or increased coverage over the old plan.

Soliciting Input

Employees are more likely to feel concerns about benefit changes during open enrollment if they have not been consulted during the process. Both during open enrollment and around halfway through the plan year, it is a good idea to check in with your employees to determine how they feel about their benefits. What is working? What isn’t? Are they any benefits they don’t currently have that they would like? Do they feel knowledgeable about their benefits?

Education about benefits leads to higher happiness among employees regarding their benefit package, and can be a helpful tool during open enrollment. Also, employees who are well educated about their benefits can provide more meaningful feedback on benefit surveys as you continue to tailor your benefits package to meet the needs of your employees.


Open Enrollment is an important time of year for you and your employees. A successful open enrollment can lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention. In order to ensure that your Open Enrollment is the best it can be, it is important to manage your employees’ expectations. As premiums increase every year, it is vital to demonstrate the advantages, both coverage and rates, of group health insurance. Communication, soliciting feedback, and education are effective tools to make sure your employees understand their benefits, make informed decisions, and know that their opinions matter. Benefit meetings are one of the most important parts of open enrollment, whether they are group meetings or individual discussions.

For those of our clients who would like to know more about the open enrollment process, or who would like to hold meetings with their employees, we are happy to provide those services. If you’d like to set up meetings, or just get more information, please email us at, or give us a call at 612-492-9320.

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Tips for Managing FMLA Leave

FMLA Leave

Do you have questions about the steps you can take to more effectively manage FMLA? Check out these tips from our partners at SunLife Financial!



If you have any questions about FMLA leave, and want to discuss it more with one of our experts, please give us a call at 612-492-9320, or send us an email at

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Making the most of your HSA and HDHP

For those of you who have a high deductible health plan (HDHP), you may be wondering how to best take advantage of your plan. With lower monthly premiums but a higher annual deductible, an HDHP takes a bit of management to really maximize its benefits. HDHP’s are one of the main ways in which insurance carriers attempt to keep monthly premiums low. But that’s just one of the benefits that comes from having an HDHP and an HSA.

What is an HSA?

An HSA, or Health Savings Account, is a special bank account you use to pay for medical expenses. Only those enrolled in an HDHP are eligible to establish and fund an HSA. Designed to work together with an HDHP, an HSA helps keep premium costs low. An HSA is a bank account that an individual is allowed to make contributions to throughout the year. There are different limits depending on whether the owner of the HSA has an individual or family policy. Those with individual coverage can contribute $3,450 during 2018. Those with family coverage can contribute $6,850 during 2018. You can then use these contributions to pay for qualified medical expenses.

The logic behind the HSA is that, when used with a HDHP, it can help prevent major out of pocket expenses. The HSA is used to cover routine, smaller medical expenses, while the HDHP offers protection in the event of a major health crisis or emergency.

One of the major benefits of an HSA is that any contributions made rollover to the next year. The funds are non-forfeitable, meaning they are yours until you use them up. It is therefore possible to build up a sizable savings that are available to help you cover medical expenses. The HSA is also portable. Even if you change jobs, or change plans, your HSA funds are still available to you. If you move from an HDHP to a non-HDHP, you cannot continue to make contributions to your HSA, but you can still use it to pay for qualified medical expenses.

What are the benefits of an HSA?

There are several advantages to making contributions to your HSA. One of the most important of these is that HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts. This means that every dollar you contribute to your HSA reduces your overall tax burden. Second, you can change the contributions you make to your HSA at any time. If you know you have a major expense coming up, you can make a one time contribution (as long as you don’t go over the limit!), and then use that to reimburse yourself. Further, withdrawals from your HSA are also tax-free, provided they are used for a qualified medical expense. Thus, for tax purposes, it is important to save the receipts of purchases made using your HSA.

An HSA is also a tool to fund your retirement. Individuals over the age of 55 are able to make extra contributions to their HSA. After the age of 65, all withdrawals made from an HSA are tax-free. In these cases, a long standing and well funded HSA can be another resource for retirees over the age of 65, as it can be used for both medical and other expenses.

In addition to making contributions to grow your HSA, they also gain interest like any savings account. This interest is also tax free. Some HSA’s also have investment options, depending on the provider.

Is an HSA right for you?

HSA’s and HDHP’s aren’t for everyone. It is important for an individual to evaluate their current health situation. Younger, generally healthier people who only use the doctor for routine physicals and other health maintenance may be drawn to the HDHP and HSA because of the low monthly premium and tax advantages. Every individual situation is different, however, and should be reviewed with a doctor and your benefits advisor. If you have questions about an HSA, HDHP, or any other benefits questions, please feel free to contact us. We can be reached at 612-492-9320, or by email at


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New Medicare Cards Coming Soon


In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act. One of the main goals of the legislation was to protect medical identity. There are several ways in which the legislation addresses this goal. First of all, each Medicare and Medicaid member will receive a new identification number. This number will replace the social security number as a method of identification. The name for this ID is the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). In addition, the government will issue new Medicare cards. These new cards remove the social security number and replace it with the MBI. As a result, it should be more difficult to obtain health information from a lost or stolen Medicare card. The government began mailing the new cards in April of 2018.

Transition Period

There will be a transition period from April 2018 to the end of December 2019. During that time, either the old or the new cards are acceptable to use when submitting claims. Starting on January 1st, 2020, however, all claims need to be submitted using the new cards. It is therefore very important to make sure you receive your new card by then. Please note that while not necessary, you can start using your new card right away.

In conclusion, there are no current action items you need to take. If you are receiving Medicare, watch for the new cards in the mail. It could take some time for them to arrive. If you have questions, please contact Linda Presler. She can be reached by phone at 612-492-9389, or by email at

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