How to Navigate Virtual Open Enrollment

Over the past few months, COVID has disrupted our routines — transforming our home, work, and social lives. We have had to learn new technology and find more meaningful ways to connect with one another. Employers have had to quickly shift the in-person events we were accustomed to and engage with employees through a variety of communication channels. With a huge part of the American workforce still working from home, like many things, open enrollment is going to look a little different this year.

Open enrollment is already a stressful time of year for many. How do you know you are picking the right plan with the best value for you or your family? This year’s may be even more difficult as we are reminded of the importance of picking the right health insurance and appropriate benefits.

Virtual open enrollment

In the past, many employers kicked-off open enrollment season by hosting large benefit fairs. They provided plenty of one-on-one opportunities to explore a company’s offerings, clarify any questions you had, and review educational materials. It was also a great chance to learn about benefits you didn’t even know you had.

This year things are a little different.

Many employers are shifting to a virtual open enrollment, either by using an external platform that looks like a virtual fair, or by offering a catalogue of webinars and virtual discussions where you can learn about your benefit offerings. For example, at Progyny, members can access on-demand benefit overview webinars or speak anonymously to a Progyny Patient Care Advocate during virtual “office hours” to understand their fertility and family building coverage.

How to educate yourself on your benefits this open enrollment season

Navigating the variety of health plans and benefits your employer may offer can be confusing — and you are not alone. About a third of employees don’t know about or don’t understand their healthcare coverage and on average, employees spend only 18 minutes enrolling in their benefits for the year. It means we spend less time choosing important health plan coverage than we might making lunch. But, without the right information, you could make hasty decisions and be stuck with benefits that don’t serve you.

It’s imperative you understand your options and take advantage of the educational opportunities your employer may be offering. Knowing how to navigate virtual open enrollment is a scary prospect, but here are some things to consider:

  1. Is your open enrollment period different this year? Often, there is only a small period of time to make changes and choose your health plan so it’s important to have those dates on your calendar.
  2. Find out if your employer is offering a virtual benefit fair and what vendors may be attending.
  3. Is your employer offering webinars or virtual discussions on your benefit offerings? These are a great opportunity to get an overview of the benefit and ask specific questions.
  4. Life is not one size fits all – your benefits shouldn’t be either. Consider your plans for today and the future. Is there coverage you may anticipate needing different for your and your family? Does it provide the options and flexibility you need? For example, Progyny’s comprehensive benefit design ensures you have the coverage you need for the many ways you can build your family.
  5. Create a list of things you want in your coverage, so you know what to ask open enrollment specialists or your benefits team. Consider the following:
    • Are there changes to your current plan? Are there new benefit offerings you want to consider?
    • How much will the different options cost? Does the plan you’re considering have higher out of pocket costs? Are your deductible and out of pocket maximum reasonable?
    • Will you be paying more or less than you do now? What are the tradeoffs?
      • Tradeoffs could be higher out of pocket costs, but lower premiums, which could actually save money at the end of the year or be neutral. It’s best to anticipate what care you’ll need and work out which plan fits best around it.
      • What care outside of preventative care do you anticipate scheduling? For example, more frequent chiropractor, or OB/GYN? How much will this cost?
    • If there are multiple plans, which plans have networks that serve you? Is your local hospital or provider in-network?
    • Are you going to be switching providers? Do you want to keep the same providers but switch plans?
      • If you switch plans, how will this affect your network benefits and providers?
    • Does your employer offer Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA)? If yes, does your employer also contribute to the account?
    • What type of coverage is offered beyond just medical?

The importance of diverse benefits – now more than ever

As the pandemic has forced us to consider what really matters, there has been overwhelmingly one answer—family. With our social lives and hobbies disrupted, people have been spending more and more time with their families. It means choosing the right coverage, and having access to family friendly benefits even more important.

If you aren’t happy with your current coverage, let your HR or benefits team know. Employee request are often a top reason employers implement new benefits. In fact, 65% of employers offering fertility coverage did so because an employee asked for it. If you’re interested in bringing comprehensive fertility and family building benefits to your organization, visit progyny.com/advocate to learn how to start the conversation.

2020 has brought a lot of change. We believe you should have access to the coverage, education, and high-quality care that you deserve. Speak to your HR or benefits team to learn more about your health care coverage and benefit options this open enrollment season.