What do I need to know about open enrollment 2020? An employer’s guide.

Open enrollment can be daunting, especially if you have a lean HR team. We’re here to help with a quick guide to navigate OE 2020.


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organized professional for open enrollment

If you’re an employer without the luxury of an HR manager to spearhead open enrollment, you may have a few questions in regards to how you can effectively take control. Because open enrollment is reliant on the healthcare marketplace, you may have conquered it successfully one year, but things could shift the next.
To help, we’ve put together a handy guide to tell you everything you need to know about open enrollment for your organization for the coverage year 2020.

What Is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment is the window during which individuals can join, add to, and/or change their insurance plans.

When Is Open Enrollment 2020?
November 1, 2019 – December 15, 2019

Open enrollment: a brief overview

First things first, let’s give a brief overview of the definition of open enrollment. Open enrollment is the annual period when employees can choose their benefits (which typically includes vision, dental, health insurance, and even pet care) but most notably, it’s when they can enroll in or make changes to their health care plan.

The open enrollment time period

Many employers wonder how long their open enrollment period has to be. This will vary by company size and support staff to help, but it doesn’t have to be any specific time period. Traditionally, employers will have an open enrollment period of two to four weeks.

When to have open enrollment

Open enrollment for employer benefits relies heavily on submitting forms to healthcare-related benefits providers. Therefore, most employers will begin and end open enrollment a few weeks prior to the marketplace open enrollment deadline. For the year starting January 2020, most open enrollments will take place in November, though it does vary by state.

Open enrollment 2020 for health care

As previously stated, open enrollment for employer benefits relies heavily on the open enrollment period for the 2019 healthcare benefits marketplace. Because this will vary by state, use the following guide to decide when open enrollment is best suited for your organization based on the state you reside in.


If you live in any of the following states, you’ll use the federal marketplace and the open enrollment period for 2020 coverage is Nov. 1, 2019 – Dec. 15, 2019:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming

Open enrollment 2019 for the remaining states are:

  • California: Oct. 15, 2019 – Jan. 15, 2020
  • Massachusetts: Nov. 1, 2019 – Jan. 23, 2020
  • Minnesota: Nov. 1, 2019 – Jan. 13, 2020
  • Rhode Island: Nov. 1, 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019

Other state-run marketplaces may decide to have varying enrollment periods outside of the federal Marketplace open enrollment period of Nov. 1 – Dec. 15, 2019.

Open enrollment 2020 tips

1) Learn from last year

The best way to make your 2019 open enrollment period smooth-sailing is by reflecting on last year. How can you make it more streamlined or efficient? What facets took the most time? What did employees need additional support with? As with anything within and organization, you can learn a lot from past performance.

2) Prepare for confusion and FAQs

Most likely, your employees will have questions or may need a bit of hand holding while comprehending certain sections. Anticipate this ahead of time and gather any necessary resources or learning materials to help.

3) Actively engage employees

As an employer, you’re probably stressed out just thinking about open enrollment and the trials and tribulations you went through finding a benefits provider. We get it. However, don’t let that interfere with your duty to engage with employees as their choosing the benefits. Be an active part of the process and offer support.

4) Over communicate

The best way to make open enrollment go over smoothly is to over-communicate all the details. Send mass emails with helpful resources, call a meeting, let employees know you’re there to answer questions ahead of time and send plenty of reminders leading up to it.


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