Thanks to the Internet, nearly anything can be accomplished with a click — order food, buy, giftwrap and mail a present, you can even charter a jet. “Everybody is just used to doing everything online,” says Steve Colberg, director of marketing at PlanSource, a cloud-based software provider. And that’s what consumers want when enrolling in benefits, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of PlanSource.

Of the 2,060 adults surveyed in October, 70% said they want to conduct open enrollment online. More than half (56%) of the 767 employees with employer-provided benefits said the traditional paper enrollment process is a waste of time — top complaints included too much research required, filling out the forms is complex and receiving confirmation takes too long. Nearly a quarter polled said they would rather go to the dentist instead of completing open enrollment and one in five would rather watch a biographical film about Lindsay Lohan.

“Benefits are complex in general,” says PlanSource CEO Dayne Williams, and not just for employees. Due to a more demanding workforce and complying with the Affordable Care Act, “employers are also getting overwhelmed,” he says.

New online exchange

Paper doesn’t make enrollment any easier, Williams says, which is why his company created a new online marketplace, OneMarket Exchange, to simplify the process. Launched on Tuesday, Oct. 21, Williams says OneMarket offers more choices and provides employees the tools needed to make the best selection for them. The online exchange can help brokers, carriers and employers alike reduce longstanding inefficiencies that have plagued the marketplace, he says, such as shortening the enrollment process and better educating employees about their benefits. 

The survey found that a large majority of employees, 67%, take time out of their workday during open enrollment, “resulting in millions of hours of lost productivity,” and one in five workers said the information they received about their benefits was confusing. An online exchange is a faster, easier way for employees to compare plans, Colberg says. “It’s familiar and it’s empowering,” he adds.

The survey also asked employees what their top considerations are during enrollment:

  • 44% said saving money by selecting an affordable plan;
  • 37% said staying healthy for their family;
  • 37% said preparing for an unforeseen medical emergency or disability;
  • 25% said ensuring their family’s financial stability after they or their partner dies;
  • 8% said getting ready for a new addition to the family.

 

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