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January 18, 2002
Online Benefit Enrollment Has Doubled
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number of U.S. employees using the Internet to enroll for benefits is rapidly increasing and changing the enrollment process. This past enrollment season, Hewitt Associates, a global outsourcing and consulting firm, found that the percentage of employees enrolling online has nearly doubled - in only two years.

In 2001, exactly 70 percent of employees enrolled online up from 36 percent in 1999 and 52 percent in 2000, according to research by Hewitt.

As Internet enrollment has continued to increase, enrollment via interactive voice response (IVR) systems and call centers has decreased by 22 percentage points and 12 percentage points since 1999.

"The Internet has truly revolutionized the benefits enrollment process and made it more efficient, user-friendly, and cost-effective. The Internet also provides employees with interactive tools to help them understand and learn about their benefits in a way they couldn't do on paper," said Maureen Kincaid, Hewitt's health management practice leader. "Online enrollment is a trend we expect will continue to rise in popularity because of the advantages for both employers and employees."

As more employees use the Internet for their benefits, more companies are beginning to offer online enrollment services. The number of Hewitt clients offering online enrollment has increased by 36 percentage points since 2000 and has nearly tripled since 1999.

"Employers also reap rewards from online enrollment, including increased cost savings, employee satisfaction and efficiency," said Kincaid. "Organizations who leverage the Internet for benefits enrollment can save significant dollars on printing costs and can potentially reduce overall call center costs as well."

This past enrollment season, Hewitt itself enrolled more than 6 million employees and their dependents on behalf of nearly 85 companies through its online enrollment tools.

"Enrollment through the Internet will continue to evolve to meet both employer and consumer needs. It won't be too long before we'll get to a time where consumers will expect it as part of their overall benefits package," said Kincaid. "As employers continue to pursue consumer-driven health plans, content and support tools will become even more important to helping their employees make the best benefits decisions and the Internet will enable them to do so."

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