We’ve received a lot of comments from clients who are concerned about changing carriers during a pandemic. We completely understand this concern and have addressed it with clients directly. However, we wanted to also address it here in a blog post.

How is Open Enrollment Different During a Pandemic?

The cliff notes answer is, not too different. 

Sure, there are some changes in the way we roll out open enrollment meetings with your employees. We have been holding many virtual meetings with employees and it works well. Additionally, we’ve worked with clients to conduct small in-person meetings with social distancing in mind and proper face mask attire. BBG will work with you on your preference. 

The big thing that remains the same is obtaining the most competitive rates. The market is active and we see no reason to not consider a carrier change during this pandemic. All carriers have promptly complied with any state-mandated healthcare regulations. Additionally, most carriers have upped their game in regards to virtual visits as normal way to receive healthcare.

If the market produces competitive rates, BBG will assist you in the transition of carriers to ensure it goes smoothly and timely. 

How to Prepare for 3rd or 4th Quarter Open Enrollment

The 4th quarter of the year is the busiest time of the year for all insurance policies – individual, Medicare, and group health policies. That being said BBG is already in preparations for all 4th quarter renewing groups. 

Additionally, the 3rd quarter occurs during the time that the busy season is ramping up so we are also in preparation for these renewals. 

Last year, I released a blog post titled, “How to Prepare for Group Open Enrollment.” All of the information in that article is still valid so there is no real reason for me to repeat it. As you are thinking about your role in preparing for your upcoming renewal I highly recommend you read this former article. 

The Most Important Prep Work

The most important prep work you can do, with the assistance of BBG, is the completion of medical health questionnaires via FormFire. FormFire is a software program that collects your employee’s medical health history via an online application system.

BBG has become experts with this software so that you don’t need to be! We have a team member, Rachel Lipscomb, who leads the charge and has streamlined the process. When you are ready to commence the FormFire Medical Health Questionnaire (MHQ) process, you will be supplied with a packet to pass out to all eligible employees. 

The packet you will receive includes:

  • Instructions
  • A questionnaire to aid your employees in being prepared with the necessary data before commencing the MHQ via FormFire
  • A Waiver form that employees may complete and sign allowing BBG to update & complete their FormFire waiver

Rachel can assist employees with their FormFire application via the phone so it will not be necessary for in-person meetings during this prep work.

When is FormFire Not Necessary?

There are instances where FormFire is not necessary. Those include the following:

  • Groups in the 100+ market
  • Groups who receive a favorable renewal
  • Groups who provide a “no shop” number to their incumbent carrier and the carrier matches it.
  • Some carriers in the 51-99 market will release underwritten rates without FormFire if your renewal is <25%. However, not all carriers do this.

I expand on each of these in my blog post from last year. You can access it here

When to Begin this Prep Work

Most carriers will only accept FormFire MHQs with signatures no older than 90 days. That being said the soonest we can begin is 90 days out from your renewal. 

Although, BBG account managers are already beginning renewal work. We are currently having conversations with carriers about our groups. Furthermore, we are reviewing new products and plans in preparation for presenting you with the best deals. In the coming months, we will be updating censuses and obtaining Average Total Number of Employees (ATNE) and names of waivers from our groups.

Closing Thoughts

We know that healthcare is one of your biggest expenses. We take this stuff very seriously and will continue to work to find ways to help you lower your costs without reducing benefits.