Tip # 30:  Create a Timeline & Focus on Your Major Milestones for Renewal


This may seem way too simple, but honestly this is just overlooked. You need a road-map, a timeline, your identified “Major Milestones for Renewal.”

Your preparation for renewal can start at different times, but honestly we suggest you start taking small steps no later than 120 days out. For example, if you have a January 1st renewal, then you should at least lay out your major milestones by September 1st.

Oh, September 1st is today!! Awesome, you are still on the right path.

Document the timelines and have actionable deadlines.

 We use a project management software called ASANA to help keep us on track with the tasks and major milestones for renewal — check out ASANA’s ideas on “Sprint Tracking”.

You can also just do it the old fashioned way and mark reminders on your calendar or setup an excel spreadsheet.

However you do it, define your targets, define your team, and honestly, define your expectations of your Broker. If you expect to have ID cards in hand 10 days before your renewal date — work backwards to define that day.

Here’s a quick and overly simplified guideline to build your own milestones calendar:

    • 120 days out:  Talk to your Broker and define your expectation; learn about market changes and discuss areas that you feel need improvement. Also, decide your preferred format for Open Enrollment (online, one on one counselors, paper forms, etc.).
    • 90 days out:  Make sure your Census Data (the list of employees who both opted in currently and those who have waived coverage) is accurate. Have your Broker audit this info against your current billing. Lastly, request your claims data. If your company plan is built on a a Self-Funded or Level-Funded Health plan, these should be easy to access. At least ask for the “Agg” report. But, if your company is on a Fully-Insured platform, you can typically get your premiums paid in vs. total of claims paid out report at any time. You may have to wait until day 60 to request the details on your list of “high claimants” if your vendor only agrees to release this 1x in 60 days.
    • 80 days out:  Get your Benchmarks (do it at 90 days out if you don’t want to include claims data benchmarks).
    • 75 Days out:  Get your market comparisons — you may have to wait a few more days if your incumbent plan hasn’t released your renewal but put the pressure on!!!
    • 60 days out:  Make your decision. There may be a little negotiation dance to perform now, or you may have to wait for some quotes from alternate carriers/vendors to firm up if they were waiting on the renewal rates from your current plan to become released, but target day 60.
    • 50 days out:  Get all of your communication drafted and reviewed for accuracy.
    • 45 days out:  Finalize it all! Start communicating the Open Enrollment dates to your employees.
    • 40 days out:  Finalize communication materials.
    • 35 days out:  Make sure the enrollments have kicked off and employees are able to take action, share information with their spouses, trusted family members or friends who assist them. Also set a cadence of reviewing who has and hasn’t taken action every couple of days at bare minimum.
    • 25 days out: Close Open Enrollment if possible and transmit the data to your Broker or carrier. If your Broker is working with an enrollment firm or hosting an online platform, check to make sure they have everything they need at this stage.

At 20 days out — you need to be done. Everything needs to

be Done.

Try and finish early, and keep pressing to move your timelines up earlier.  If your expectation is to have ID cards in hand prior to your effective date, then finish early.  Sometimes, 20 days isn’t far enough in advance.

The smaller you are, push yourself to finish early because you won’t get priority treatment.

The larger you are, start earlier because you are more desirable and the insurers and your broker will pay attention to you.  But don’t delay because you also have more pitfalls and people to track down.

Stay tuned for more tips as we continue the 30 day countdown.


MZQ Consulting, LLC

MZQ Consulting, LLC

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MZQ Consulting is a Benefits Compliance firm that specializes in Affordable Care Act Reporting and numerous other employee benefits-related compliance services. Our mission is to help people navigate the complex world of employee benefits compliance through our deep expertise and superb client service.