The open enrollment period for health benefits is a time for employees to sign up for benefits that will protect their health, strengthen their finances and keep their families secure.
It can also be a great time for brokers and clients to use the benefits package as a tool for acquiring and retaining talent.
Consider these results from a recent MetLife employee survey:
61% of employees say they are more likely to accept a job that offers health and well-being benefits,
59% say health benefits would make them more loyal.
51% say they are more likely to accept an offer that comes with financial benefits, and
53% say they would be more loyal to a job that has benefits that help them get their finances in order.
A strong health savings account (HSA) program or flexible spending account (FSA) program can make a great differentiator. It can help the employees protect their health and strengthen their finances.
Growing use of high-deductible health plans (HDHP) is contributing to an increase in popularity for both FSAs and HSAs. In fact, HSA enrollment was up 53.7% in 2016, and there were 27.4 million FSAs in use last year. The number of FSAs in use is expected to grow to 32.3 million by 2020.
These tax-advantaged accounts can help cushion users of HDHP coverage against the effects of the high deductible, by letting account holders set aside pre-tax money to pay for current health expenses. HSA users can also save money for post-retirement health care expenses.
For all that growing popularity, though, FSAs and HSAs are only useful if employees understand them. If employees lack this knowledge, they may not enroll in the accounts or use an existing account to its full potential.
So, what can brokers and employers do to maximize enrollment in this valuable benefit and help employees become savvy health care shoppers during open enrollment? Start by talking about the seven following HSA and FSA topics with the clients’ employees.
1. The key benefits of opening an account.
The value of saving for health care expenses cannot be over emphasized, but there are few key benefits that employees should be aware of, including:
Meeting out-of-pocket maximums, copays and coinsurance;
Supplementing health plan coverage;
Saving for “big ticket” items or expenses, such as elective surgery; and
Saving for expenses in retirement.
2. How to maximize contributions.
The amount each employee contributes to his or her account will depend on their individual circumstances. Start by educating employees about the current contribution limits, the tax benefits of funding their accounts, and relevant employer matching, and tools available to help them estimate their annual health care needs. Consider directing employees to an online FSA or HSA calculator to help them plan their contributions and estimate savings.
3. What, if any, spending deadlines apply.
This applies only to FSAs. If the FSA has a spending deadline, be sure to communicate that clearly to employees.