UGS Open Enrollment



ERISA does not require enrollment for health and welfare benefit plans and open enrollment is not required by law.  Therefore, it is up to the employer to decide whether to provide regular open enrollment periods, as well as the enrollment and eligibility rules.


Employers should provide employees eligible for participation in a health & welfare plan a written explanation of the procedures for enrolling, along with the appropriate forms.  In general, the materials should be accurate and give the individual enough information to make an informed choice.

The Plan Document/Summary Plan Description (PD/SPD) can be used for this purpose, as long as it is distributed to all eligible employees (not just those who enroll in the plan).  If summary information about the plan is used, it must be consistent with the PD/SPD and other benefit descriptions.

In general, open enrollment materials should include the following:

The forms should clearly state that eligibility is based on the terms of the plans, and cannot be presumed just because open enrollment information was provided.  In other words, simply receiving the forms does not automatically mean they are eligible to participate in the plan.


Employers must ensure that all eligible employees receive open enrollment materials.  Otherwise, the employer may be responsible for benefits to eligible individuals who are not enrolled in the plan because the employer did not provide or process the necessary forms.

Employers should also remember that certain inactive employees and their beneficiaries may be eligible for the plan(s) and take steps to deliver materials to them.

In general, employers want to consider the following groups of employees when distributing open enrollment materials:


ERISA does not specifically address how open enrollment materials should be delivered.

However, when choosing delivery methods, an employer should keep in mind that:

To ensure full compliance, many employers choose to follow the requirements for delivery of ERISA materials.  Click Here to review those requirements in the Delivery Method Compliance Topic.