The Inefficiencies of Employee Health Benefits Enrollment for Brokers

April 22, 2019

Employees want to access their health benefits with minimal hassle. Employers want to spend as little as possible to get employees enrolled and back to work. And benefits brokers want to make both groups happy and have enough time to meet the needs of all their clients. Getting employees enrolled in their health benefits quickly is in everyone’s best interest. So why is the employee health benefits enrollment process notoriously inefficient? A number of factors contribute.

The Outdated Process

Today’s workforce is digitally savvy. With few exceptions, American adults are constantly connected to the Internet. The ways that we pay bills, book travel and connect with our friends have changed – so why are employees still being asked to fill out piles of benefits enrollment paperwork by hand?

Paper moves slowly. Some employees who are given physical paperwork to complete will lose it, or forget to submit it, which requires someone to track it down. By contrast, using a web-based system allows employees to complete necessary paperwork much more quickly. It also solves the issue of how to store copies of employee paperwork. Moving the process to a web-based tool eliminates any need to keep burdensome files.

Employers with disabled employees may also find that using a paper-based process could be problematic for those employees who have handwriting issues and motor control deficits. For accessibility purposes, those employees may prefer using an electronic system.

Small Group Difficulties

The benefits enrollment process caters to large groups, so some of the typical inefficiencies don’t affect employees of major employers. Small groups have unique challenges. Insurance carriers may require brokers who work with small businesses to submit enrollment information through their websites in their specific formats, which makes the process more complicated than it needs to be for employees.

No Direct Data Connection

Getting employees to complete and return enrollment paper is a cumbersome task, but getting that information submitted to the carrier may be just as time consuming – and that work falls to the broker and/or their agency. The typical paper-based process doesn’t offer any easy way for information collected on individual employees to be transmitted to the carrier. Instead, data provided by employees has to be manually processed. That leaves brokers stuck handling a lot of data entry.  Plus, since the carriers are the big guys and brokers are the little guys, brokers have to submit data into the carrier’s system. Each carrier’s system is different so the process varies; another way the process is inefficient.

Any mistakes that brokers make while logging in this information can lead to coverage lapses for employees, so accuracy is critical. Furthermore, when employees make errors on their paperwork or want to make changes to their benefits, it falls to the broker to personally process those corrections. Considering the volume of clients brokers serve, making minor corrections can eat up a significant portion of a broker’s workday.

Likewise, collecting data for a census to get renewal pricing from carriers is time consuming.  The back-and-forth between client and carrier can take weeks.

Some Employees Are Ineligible on the Enrollment Date

Not all employees working on the enrollment date are eligible for benefits on that date due to trial periods, working below the minimum number of hours to be eligible or other reasons.  If or when those employees do become eligible, the HR department and the broker must work together to offer benefits, present the options, answer questions and ensure that the employee either enrolls or declines coverage.   Getting employees onboarded outside of the open enrollment period tends to be even more inefficient for brokers than it is during open enrollment.

A More Efficient Alternative

Commonwealth Payroll & HR recognizes the challenges that brokers contend with when assisting clients with enrollment. Those challenges are the reason that we launched Ben-Align, a solution native to Commonweath’s iSolved that allows you to better serve your clients by making benefits administration easier. Employees who need to enroll in benefits or change their benefits elections can take advantage of self-service options via the web portal, eliminating many of the inefficiencies that typically plague this process.  Commonwealth Payroll & HR’s system allows for a direct data transfer from brokers to many major carriers through carrier-connect which greatly reduces both administrative time and the possibility of data entry errors. Plus, with the aggregated data all stored in the payroll system, next year’s census is a breeze.

As you work to meet the needs of your clients, turn to Commonwealth Payroll & HR for support. To learn more about how using Ben-Align can make enrollment more efficient, call us today at 978-599-1500.

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