Can you believe it’s that time of year again? If you’re an HR leader, you’re already planning your health insurance and benefits for 2020. Whether you’re new to the process or a seasoned veteran, it’s challenging to craft a health insurance plan design that hits the mark with all of your employees. However, you can set yourself up for success by preparing in advance. Simply follow best practices and avoid major pitfalls.

Here are a few common traps to watch out for:

Not addressing behavioral health

Behavioral health is the relationship between someone’s actions and the impact they have on their mental and physical health. It’s a concept that has grown in popularity in the workplace. Why? Many studies demonstrate the importance of addressing health holistically. According to Gallup, employees who don’t take care of their total wellbeing are at higher risk for negative outcomes. This includes being more likely to miss work, lose productivity, and find a new job.

That’s why it’s essential to make sure your benefits plan includes behavioral health benefits like an EAP program. This can include anything from counseling services to substance abuse programs. These tools can help your employees manage their physical and mental health problems. Otherwise, you miss the opportunity to improve your employees’ lives – which you’ll ultimately notice in your bottom line.

Forgetting to account for growth

Are you prepared to accommodate a growing workforce? Don’t forget that you’ll need to drop and add employees to your plan throughout the year. Have a process in place to make these changes seamlessly. As you craft your health insurance plan design, also make sure all of your benefits are easily scalable. That means having tools and programs that don’t require tons of manual effort to get up and running. This is where vetting your vendors properly comes in handy (more on this below).

Missing the demographic mark

Don’t succumb to cookie-cutter health insurance plan design for your company! Instead, take the time to understand the demographics of your employees. Then customize a healthcare offering that makes sense for them. This should take into account factors like age, gender, and family status. Having this information at your fingertips will help you design a truly impactful plan.

For example, let’s say 90% of your employees are millennials. You may want to offer a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) instead of a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan. Since millennials are statistically less likely to utilize the healthcare system, giving them a plan with lower monthly premiums – such as the HDHP – can be beneficial.

Not preparing for open enrollment

Open enrollment is a confusing and stressful time for employees. That’s because less than half of Americans are confident they can choose the right insurance plan. As a result, they’re going to lean heavily on the HR team for guidance. Just remember that preparing for open enrollment isn’t a project that can be done in a few days. It’s a process that needs to be prepared for months in advance.

Print your physical collateral and schedule your training sessions early. And be ready to answer any questions from employees. Open enrollment season will be here soon, and if you miss the opportunity to educate your team during this critical window, you may suffer from low utilization and disengaged teammates for the rest of the year. Mark your calendar and make sure HR has everything ready to go before the deadline. If you have an employee benefits experience platform, make sure to have a plan in place to leverage it and spread the word.

Neglecting year-round education

It’s a common misconception that education starts and stops with open enrollment season. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A year-round education strategy should be baked into your plans. Otherwise, you risk low awareness levels, which can result in employees not using their full package of healthcare benefits. This means wasted money for your organization and a recipe for unhappy employees.

There are many ways to engage in education efforts throughout the year. We recommend using tactics like lunch-and-learn info sessions, email campaigns, and monthly office hours. You can also take a more creative approach. Offer prizes for employees who participate in a lunch-and-learn. Set up company-wide reminders on Slack. Or make fun educational videos and play them around the office. It takes extra work, but with a little preparation and planning, you’ll learn how to incorporate these educational moments into the employee journey seamlessly. You could also include a benefits experience platform like HealthJoy into your plan that has year-round plan education baked in.

Not evaluating a vendor’s offering

While considering your health insurance plan design for 2020, do your due diligence when it comes to selecting vendors. It’s easy to renew a longstanding vendor relationship without a proper review. However, this would be doing yourself and your employees a disservice. Every year, conduct a thorough evaluation to make sure you vendors are at the top of their game. Or you risk missing out on potential cost savings and the chance to offer your employees the best benefits possible.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask existing and potential vendors tough questions. Examples include: “How will you support my company through open enrollment and beyond?” And “Can your product seamlessly integrate with our existing processes?” Or “What makes you different from your competitors?” Your vendor should easily be able to answer these queries — if not , it may be time to find a different vendor.

A lot of work goes into your health insurance plan design and other benefits. And there can be immense pressure to get it just right. But don’t worry. If you keep these common pitfalls in mind as you plan for 2020, you’ll have a head start. With a little extra time and effort, you can create a comprehensive offering your employees will appreciate all year.

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