Have you started looking at your 2009 open enrollment for benefits? For many small and midsized employers this is an after-Labor-Day task that starts as soon as the beach chairs are put away — and it usually does not get done until the last possible moment before the new plan year.If you have not started, ask your broker or provider these questions:
- When can I expect renewal information?
- What trends are you seeing in renewals?
- What information do you need for the process?
- Is it time to look at other plan providers?
Getting news of a double-digit-plus rate increase in November leaves little time to look for options or take the careful consideration necessary to make changes in existing plans. I know these surprises do happen — I have been there both as the in-house HR professional and a consultant. In these situations, you need to rush because you certainly don’t want any interruption in benefits, but meanwhile the plan options could suffer and the communications to employees are not given the attention they deserve.
Starting early and planning makes a huge difference in the benefits plan renewal process. You may have to push your plan providers for answers and results, but the consequences of getting unpleasant surprises justify the early effort.
If you are in the New York metropolitan area you can explore this topic at one of two free breakfast meetings sponsored by the New York Business Group on Health (NYGBH) on August 19th or 20th. NYGBH is a not-for-profit coalition of 150 businesses and is the only organization in the New York Metropolitan area exclusively devoted to employer health benefit issues. NYBGH functions as the forum for businesses to explore contemporary healthcare issues and find practical resolutions. Members include employers and health-related organizations. The mission of NYBGH is to provide leadership and knowledge to employers to promote a value-based, market-driven healthcare system.
Register today for Tough Times Call for Creative Solutions. I hope to see you at one of the breakfast meetings. Can’t make the meeting? Tell us what suggestions you have for managing HR and benefits in tough times.