In May, a state government with 30,000-plus employees chose for the first time in nearly a decade to conduct a full-positive benefits enrollment. If an employee didn’t actively enroll, his or her coverage would be terminated.
Because employees are required to enroll online, the state’s HR leadership envisioned the full-positive enrollment as a unique opportunity to engage employees with their benefits. The four plans offered remained consistent and included a high-deductible health plan, with two carrier options and different deductibles – health-maintenance organization and preferred- provider organization.
Several factors exacerbated the challenge:
- Employee contributions for each of the four plans had been frozen for the previous two years. Two of the four plans would, however, see significant increases in employee contributions – some higher than 200 percent.
- A deductible was added to the HMO option.
- During the previous enrollment plan, participation had an increase of 13 percent in the co-pay PPO and 4 percent in the co-pay HMO.
- The lowest-cost option would now be the HDHP option with the highest deductible.
- Although the state has about 90 HR managers statewide, it has only a handful of dedicated benefits experts to provide in-depth assistance and guidance to employees. These four or five people are, in essence, the benefits help desk for state employees.
HR leaders also wanted employees to put more consideration into their benefits decisions and to make choices that made good sense for their personal and family situations rather than simply basing a decision on the cost of premiums. Finally, HR sought to reduce the number of calls to the state’s benefits team.