I don’t want to oversimplify the case for online enrollment of worksite benefits, because whether or not it’s the right approach for a particular case demands on the needs of the client. However, if you do offer online enrollment and administration, you need a suite of capabilities.
A number of important principles apply:
1. All Web-based systems have to be secure and HIPAA compliant. Logins for employees must be secure, and backup systems must be thorough and tested.
2. Using a centralized, rules-based system for a Web-based application is superior to client-server arrangements that require security precautions and more system and software maintenance.
3. Deployment is key. Whether your client’s human resources department uses homemade Excel spreadsheets or has enormously complex and expensive enterprise systems, the results are only as good as the process. Too many spreadsheets are out of date and unreliable, while too many expensive systems are incompletely installed, making them neither as practical nor as robust as the vendor claimed.
In the end, understanding client problems will give you better insight into solving client needs through Web-based enrollment.
For one thing, I’ve found few clients are realistic about the preparation they need for a successful enrollment. Like facing tax day on April 15, many postpone the inevitable.
They often find they don’t understand business rules for plans, they have unresolved issues about their contribution levels for certain benefits and are anxious about new programs like consumer-directed health plans with associated healthcare spending accounts.
In some cases, you may find the employer does not maintain current enrollment data well. While HR and finance departments ensure the payroll database is current, they seldom take the steps needed to integrate that data with benefit eligibility and management requirements.
Another problem is clients that confuse processes. For instance, they may not appreciate that shopping the renewal with the broker is not the same as implementing open enrollment and then administering the continued benefits program.
Successful website enrollment demands a thorough analysis of the customer’s requirements. HR often needs a team to help arrange the annual open enrollment, and the best place to start building an enrollment team is usually the broker.