Open enrollment is the time of year when employees review and select their health benefits package for the following year.
This year, employers should expect a lot more questions than usual from their employees about their health insurance options.
Employees will want to know if the Affordable Care Act has affected or will affect their coverage or their premiums, and some may be confused about the impact of the new health care law.
Employers can help employees during open enrollment by having their human resource director, benefits consultant or health insurance representative make group presentations about what's changing and, just as importantly, what's staying the same.
Two of the most notable changes include 100 percent coverage for a wide number of preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance, and the ability to keep dependents on a parent's policy until age 26.
Employees at small businesses may for the first time see a broader selection of health benefit options rather than just a single plan to choose from.
In the past, small businesses often could afford to offer their employees only one plan design. Over the past year, however, many health insurers have begun offering "packages" of policies designed specifically for small businesses. For example, a 20-something single employee might get to select a health plan with a higher deductible, while an employee with children might select a low-deductible plan.
With more choices come more decisions. Before deciding on what plan to take, employees should be encouraged to do their homework, ask questions of their employer or health plan, and even use innovative online and mobile devices to research their options.
-- Sue Schick, CEO
UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania & Delaware
Business Workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at firstname.lastname@example.org.