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How to Do Open Enrollment Right in 2017

By Andrew MacGill | November 30, 2016 | Rally Health

How did open enrollment go for you this year? If you’re like most benefits managers, you’re probably aware that open enrollment can be a confusing time for employees. Actually, it's even worse than you think.

According to the Aflac WorkForces Report, more than 60 percent of respondents thought that picking health insurance was at least as bad as getting a tooth filled. More than 70 percent thought it was as bad as doing their own taxes or getting stuck in a middle seat on a plane. That’s pretty awful.

What’s worse, while much of your time as a benefits manager may be spent assembling the perfect benefits package, your employees can’t say the same when it comes to picking a plan. That same Aflac survey found that nearly half of employees (46 percent) spend just 30 minutes or less understanding and choosing their benefits for the year. By comparison, we spend about eight times as long picking out a new computer (4 hours) — but hey, at least we get a shiny new toy at the end of that research!

The result? Aflac found that the vast majority of employees with benefits (90 percent) just keep what they had the year before, even if they don’t fully understand new plans or other changes. With health care offerings changing so quickly these days, that’s not a winning strategy.

Part of the reason people give up and stick with their old plan is that benefits materials are often complicated, confusing, or unhelpful. According to a UnitedHealthcare survey, 93 percent of people don’t understand the four key health insurance terms: premium, deductible, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximum. And a Jellyvision survey found that more than half would like more help from their employer. Given that health care is such a big expense — for employers and employees alike — it’s time to make things easier for everyone with better, more frequent communications.

While we can’t make choosing health insurance as fun as buying a new computer, we can help people understand their options. It’s part of Rally’s mission to improve the entire health care user experience, which is why Rally Choice features simple visuals and explanations, along with  real-time pricing. We make dozens of thoughtful decisions behind the scenes so that our users can quickly figure out their best options.

In that spirit, we’ve put together some helpful guides you can share with employees at your next open enrollment, whether they’re using Rally Choice or not. These stories explain common terms and offer tips on various plans and spending options. And since choosing a primary care provider is often a big part of the open enrollment equation, there’s information on how to do that well, too.

Understanding Health Insurance — You Can Do It!


Copays, deductibles, out-of-pocket max — we break it all down in super simple terms and point out some helpful things to check when looking at various options.

Which Health Plan Is Right for You?


From regular old HMOs to newer creatures like EPOs and HDHPs, we decode the alphabet soup and help employees figure out which options would best suit their needs.

How to Choose a Primary Care Doctor


Choosing new insurance often means a whole new relationship with a new doctor. We point out some not-so-obvious things to check out so that employees are happy with their choices, and therefore happier with where they work. We even tell them what to do when it’s time to break up with their current doctor Hint: It’s not that hard.

Andrew MacGill is VP of Product Strategy at Rally Health.


Andrew MacGill
Rally Health