Employee benefits automation – one way to help control cost

Andrew Brickman

CFO.com reports that 77% of U. S. chief financial officers are concerned about the continuing cost pressures of group employee benefits. When cost is king, one of the largest budget line items most employers examine is their employee benefit programs. Is it feasible simply to cut benefits or is there another way to reduce cost while maintaining high quality employee benefits?

Employee benefits administration can be daunting and expensive without the right tools. Open enrollment season brings plan changes. Employees are hired and fired. Families form and divide. There are a dozen common reasons why the benefits landscape for a midsize company is constantly shifting, not to mention all the coming changes due to healthcare reform and other laws. That’s why employee benefits information systems are being adopted at a rapid pace, regardless of industry.

An employee benefits information system can help your company reduce the cost of administering benefits and potentially lower your overall benefits spend. A well-implemented enrollment and eligibility tool will:

  • Automate the benefit eligibility process
  • Streamline premium invoice and carrier reconciliation
  • Educate employees at the time of enrollment creating smarter and more informed benefit consumers
  • Eliminate the headache and paper chase of administering open enrollment, on-going new hires and life event processing

Traditionally, reconciling carrier bills and premium invoices is one of the more error-prone processes, leading to unnecessary costs. High turnover, staff expansion and dependent children over the age of 26 are all common occurrences difficult to catch with a manual system. An automated tool houses all of your enrollment and eligibility rules, providing an accurate depiction of your costs. Month-end reconciliation becomes much easier. With benefits plans growing more complex and expensive every year, automating benefits administration allows your organization to utilize less staff while also making it easier to control benefit costs.

Not only is automated benefits administration great for the employer, it’s great for employees. User-friendly tools engage and educate staff about benefits through an easy-to-use navigation portal. Now a wealth of information is just a click away. Open enrollment and life event processing can be confusing and challenging for anyone. With an automated system, employees can learn, view and then elect benefits specific to their eligibility. All transactions can be seamlessly transmitted to payroll, ensuring accurate payroll deductions.

Finally, it’s not just about the technology. The service and the support a company gets when setting up an automated system is of vital importance. It is important to partner with a company that understands your overall benefits strategy, can leverage relationships with carriers and understands the overall employee benefit landscape. It’s a make or break difference in the world of group employee benefits administration. There are a lot of technology options a company can select. Without good implementation and a solid on-going support model, success and cost savings become much harder to achieve.

Instead of being viewed as an additional cost, an employee benefits information system can be implemented as a tool to help your organization save money. It will reduce administrative work and increase accuracy by automating cumbersome paper-based processes. It will foster more informed and educated benefit decision by participants. When combined, your benefit plans will run more cost effectively and your benefits will be more valued by your employees.