open enrollment conversations
Employee Benefits

Thinking Ahead…

Travis Dent
Travis Dent
Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits

It’s early October, and I’m Thinking Ahead. Those of you familiar with Holmes Murphy and our culture know that “Thinking Ahead” is one of our mantras and a core belief we work to practice every day. That said, my current forward thinking has to do with a rabbit. Not just any rabbit, mind you, but “Ra Ra,” the stuffed animal rabbit that’s quickly become an obsession for my 19-month-old daughter, Brooklyn. In just under one month, Brooklyn will experience her first full Halloween. While some of you are now doing the math and realizing that at 19 months old this is technically her second Halloween, you have to understand she was little more than a mildly sophisticated animatronic last year. Dressed (unknowingly) as a bag of popcorn, she lay perfectly positioned in a Baby Bjorn accompanying my movie attendant uniform and allowing me to “Share Abundantly” in her candy. Here’s a picture, just to prove it:

This year, I’ll be extended no such grace and my wife and I are feverishly working to transform our little nugget into Ra Ra, the world’s most perfect human rabbit.

This process of Thinking Ahead got me to focus on some of the conversations I’ve been having lately and the concentration of this particular season. With many employers preparing for and currently going through annual enrollment, the focus shifts to ID cards, file feeds, and properly placed text boxes within enrollment guides. While all are very important, we often lose sight of the bigger purpose…which is the health of our employees. The administrative tail tends to “wag the dog,” and some of the overarching purpose can be lost in the messaging.

Don’t get me wrong, annual enrollment meetings are imperative and are the culmination of a lot of hard work by our clients and teams. Further, they’re one of the only consistent touch-points many employers have with their employees face-to-face all year. That being the case, I’d challenge us to share the message of population health and help employees understand the part they play in this delicate balance. As we all know, costs are rising and as our President, Den Bishop, likes to say “one of the most successful things we manufacture in this country is disease.” In a world of “just because you’ve told me once means you’ve told me once,” it’s important we repeat these messages often. We must share data with our employees, help them understand the partnership they play in their employer’s ability to offer meaningful benefits, and how the focus on their health impacts all that we do.

Employers are uniquely positioned to change why, how, and where people receive healthcare, and much of this starts with the why. Informing our people during these enrollment meetings of the reasons behind their meaningful plan design, their share in the cost, and the importance of any clinical intervention programs you have in place is imperative. We cannot be afraid to Share Abundantly with people, let them know their position as a stakeholder in this equation, and throw some heat their way as part of these discussions:

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 29 million Americans have diabetes, while 1 in 4 doesn’t know.
  • Another 86 million Americans (more than one in three U.S. adults) has pre-diabetes.
  • What does this look like at your company and what does it cost?
  • How long do you have to work each year as a company before you pay for healthcare costs? March? April? July?

These are the things we should be talking about, and these are the things we need to work together to impact.

So, as we all plan for annual enrollment, maybe we work to Think Ahead to what’s next and how we share this information with our people. Good luck and, for those of you in the throes of it, happy enrolling.

As for me, I’m off to look for enough cotton balls to cover a 2-foot tall human and, of course, the right material for Ra Ra’s floppy ears.

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