Employers are fighting the downward economy and upward health care costs by changing weight classes, so to speak. Instead of heavyweight, high-cost HMOs and PPOs, companies are slimming down to become middleweights, shifting costs to employees through consumer-driven plans, changing insurance carriers and/or bridging gaps in core offerings with mini-med and voluntary benefits.

Although employers months ago began trimming their bottom lines, making changes to salary, hiring, training and benefits budgets, as open enrollment season fast approaches, benefit managers must educate employees about how those changes will affect their benefits options for next year.

In the opener to EBN's three-part Open Enrollment Boot Camp series, Associate Editor Kathleen Koster gets open enrollment tips from communication experts, who generally recommend revisiting open enrollment offerings and policies six to nine months beforehand to ensure enough time to effectively communicate with employees.

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