We are currently in the midst of USFSB’s open enrollment process.   This is always a difficult time for USFSB’s employees since we, by necessity, become the messenger that has to convey to our Members the insurance carriers’ ever increasing premiums which, of course, tend to make our Members upset.

The Open Enrollment Period is when the insurance carriers assess their products and benefits, make changes and issue their new annual rates.   It is also when our Members have the opportunity to change insurance plans or carriers.   This period, for USFSB, begins in October when we start to meet with our insurance carrier representatives to discuss their proposed plans, benefits and rates for the coming year.  At that time, we also determine which of their available new or existing plans we can offer.  In November, we receive the new rates and open enrollment culminates in January when all of the changes are finally completed.

This is the busiest and most stressful period of time for our employees.  Once we have decided on the insurance plans and received the new rates everything must then be organized and entered into our computer system both for billing purposes as well as to update the Insurance Clearing House section of USFSB’s web site.   This can be a difficult and arduous process since, in many cases, the insurance carriers are not able to provide the new rates until the last minute. This puts USFSB in the position of having to scramble to get everything entered in time so that we can notify our Members by December 1st of the new rates and their options if they want to change plans or carriers.

Our custom computer system makes the job a little easier then it was in years past and we are able to provide our Members with a custom grid that gives them all of their options in a very clear and organized fashion.  Then the real fun begins as our Members call with their questions and concerns which we take pride in answering with the best information possible so that they can feel comfortable with their current plan or make a well reasoned decision to move to a different plan or carrier.

Even with these helpful tools and all of the efforts of our employees, open enrollment often feels like a runaway train that might fall off the tracks at any moment.   However, we manage to keep everything under control even if we are a bit frazzled by January. 

The biggest problem for me is that every year the premiums go up and USFSB is always put in the position of being the bearer of bad tidings, during the holidays no less.   We do everything we can to help our Members get through open enrollment as painlessly as possible and try to be the one safe port in this storm of ever rising insurance premiums.