Open enrollment runs from November 1st until December 15th. Make sure that you enroll through your employer-based healthcare plan by the deadline, or otherwise, get marketplace insurance at Healthcare.gov!
If you’ve ever been to the DMV, you know that it’s a boring, annoying process. No one looks forward to going to the DMV. Why is it then, that U.S. workers say they dread the open enrollment process only marginally less than renewing their driver’s license or passport? According to a new survey by MetLife, Americans dread the benefits enrollment process that comes around every year.
I spoke with MetLife’s Meredith Ryan-Reid, Senior Vice President, Group Benefits about this survey and why this issue is so important. To start off, she gave us the rundown of some of the survey findings:
People aren’t comfortable with the financial decisions they’re making.
People don’t feel confident during the open enrollment period.
Forty-five percent of people actually dread going through open enrollment.
Women are even more stressed about the process; in fact, 47 percent of women polled said they dreaded the open enrollment process - more so than asking for a raise.
But why is it that this process is so unpleasant for folks?
There’s More Information Than People Can Consume
Just like at the grocery store, where it’s difficult to choose one jar of mayonnaise when there are 30 different brands, it can be overwhelming and difficult to get the health insurance facts that you need. Where there is so much to read and so much to choose from, it can feel paralyzing and impossible to make a decision.
They Don’t Know If They Made the Right Choice
According to Reid, “There is broad advice to follow but clicking the boxes feels weighty. There’s not enough affirmation that they made the right decision.” Related to there being too much information, it can be hard to know if you’ve made the right decision for yourself and your family if there are too many things to choose from.
People Don’t Like Uncertainty
Humans don’t like feeling uncertain. Whenever there is uncertainty, people will fill it with negative thoughts and anxiety. It can make the process feel much scarier than it actually is, which can lead to people avoiding it and making an impulsive choice at the last minute.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways that things can be made easier and more manageable.
What Employers Can Do to Make This Easier
MetLife’s Reid had great recommendations for employers when it comes to making the enrollment process easier:
Partner with communications or marketing firms to deliver messages in a different way that makes things easier to understand.
Use humor in communication materials. This will get people’s attention and make the process less intimidating.
Get people the right message at the right time, which is right before open enrollment.
Make it feel like a journey, with clear steps from one goal to the next.
Don’t miss the opportunity to affirm people’s choices throughout the year. Let them know that they made the right decision by making their benefits and incentives obvious.
What Individuals Can Do Moving Forward
But while employers need to do better to properly equip their employees, there are steps that individuals can take too:
Take extra time. Give yourself a whole week to review your benefits, instead of just 10 minutes.
Start smaller with digestible bites of information.
Get more aware of the benefits you don’t always think about, like wellness and legal benefits, or discounts on things like auto insurance.
Ask for help from the professionals who are employed to answer your questions. That’s what they’re there for!
Get past the discomfort of asking questions that feel obvious to you.
Good luck and get enrolled in health insurance!
This article was originally published on my ForbesWomen column. Make sure you follow me there so you never miss a post!
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.