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ERISA Overview

ERISA is a federal law that regulates Group-sponsored benefits (also called “welfare benefit plans”). Besides requiring the provision of specific Plan features and funding information, the law in some cases mandates employers to submit detailed information to the government. Employers face strict deadlines for disclosing Plan information to all eligible employees and all sponsors who administer ERISA plans must follow a strict fiduciary code of conduct.

You may be at risk and not even know it! Failure to comply with ERISA’s requirements can mean costly government penalties, even employee lawsuits. Let our ERISA associates take care of all the necessary documents, forms, and record keeping for you.

1. Pre-Enrollment Period

Plan ahead:

  • Be ready to answer employee questions regarding the health care reform legislation. Understand how the legislation will affect your benefits offerings and be prepared to share this knowledge with employees.
  • Make a list of anything new and exciting that will enhance your open enrollment processes. Plan to communicate these enhancements to employees.
  • Consider online enrollment programs and software if you haven’t already. Allow time to implement them onto your company website before your open enrollment period.
  • Maintain records of employee questions, comments and concerns, preferred communication methods, trends in employees’ selections and other information that will help you better serve employees during open enrollment.
  • Make necessary changes to your benefits offerings before the open enrollment period to avoid rushing at the last minute.
  • Survey employees on what they are seeking in terms of benefits offerings and any improvements they would like to see. Customize your offerings to your employee population after analyzing survey results.
  • Consider offering new benefits, even if they are 100 percent voluntary.

Spread the knowledge:

  • Hold meetings with employees to review coverage options and changes. Also offer information regarding benefits in various formats to your employees – one-on-one meetings, benefit fairs, mailers or Intranet tools.
  • If pamphlets or brochures are provided by your carrier or third-party administrator, deliver them to employees.
  • Communicate helpful phone numbers and websites to employees looking for additional resources.

Know your audience:

  • Be prepared to answer questions that employees asked most frequently last year.
  • Open enrollment can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience for you and your employees. This checklist will help you prepare for a successful open enrollment period this year.
  • Create a frequently-asked-questions sheet with answers to distribute, post or email to employees.
  • Provide answers to basic questions, such as how much premiums will increase, new coverage options, etc.

2. Enrollment Period

Open enrollment can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience for you and your employees. Consider the following suggestions for a successful open enrollment period this year.

Make sure employees have received all enrollment materials, including:

  • Open enrollment schedule
  • Statement of current coverage
  • Plan-specific changes and rates
  • Annual Open Enrollment Checklist