The benefits open enrollment period allows employees to learn about and make changes to the benefits offered. The company might offer educational sessions about benefits and help employees make changes to maximize the use of the benefits.
Outside the open enrollment period, employees can only make changes to benefits with a qualifying event, such as the birth of a child or loss of other health insurance. The open enrollment period eliminates the requirement of a qualifying event, allowing all employees to make desired changes.
For health insurance, changes might include choosing a different insurance plan, starting a policy if the employee did not previously use the group insurance or increasing coverage on certain policies, such as company-provided life insurance.
Employees also have the option of enrolling in or changing optional benefits. This may include disability insurance or flexible spending accounts. Employees may have the option of changing fringe benefits throughout the year, not just during the open enrollment period.
Employees should use the open enrollment period as a time to review their current coverage and benefit participation. Companies sometimes change the insurance options available to employees during open enrollment. Reviewing the new options for the year allows employees to choose the best options for their situations.