We are once again entering the benefits open enrollment season.
With football season kicked off, some fans have chosen players for their fantasy teams just like employees are choosing benefits for themselves and their family members.
Unlike fantasy football leagues, employees don’t get to trade “players” mid-season, so now is the time to get their benefits right for the upcoming year.
Of course, much attention is focused on medical plan changes. Those of us in the voluntary benefits space (much like the beleaguered kicker on a football squad) frequently gripe about how we get just a small fraction of the employer or employee mindshare during enrollment. But, don’t overlook voluntary benefits this enrollment season — big changes are happening here too.
First, voluntary benefits are now often included in open enrollment rather than off-cycle as we have seen in the past. This represents a big shift in the perception and prominence of voluntary products, which are no longer relegated to the sidelines.
In the past, voluntary benefits were viewed as an afterthought or “nice to have.” While important, they were not viewed as an integral part of the benefits package. We have seen a marked shift as employers and employees now view these offerings as a key part to their base benefits package.
Second, with the voluntary planning process moved up to an earlier point in the year, there is more collaboration between medical and voluntary benefits. Gone are the days of medical and voluntary brokers working in isolation (frequently at different times of the year), rolling out benefits in silos with different communication strategies.