Trying to find the right benefits administrator to fit your needs can be overwhelming. Here are five quick considerations to keep in mind when considering a benefits administration partner:
1) Transparency. Consider the amount of visibility you want and will be granted to the activities of the service team. How are service calls being handled? When are fulfillment materials generated and mailed to employees? What was on the last file sent to the carriers?
2) Configurable or Customizable. There is a difference between a configurable system and a customizable system. A configurable system is a system built on a single code base, but configured for individual employer needs. A customizable system contains individual code customizations that are specific to a single instance. Consider the impact of each. A configurable system allows all updates to be pushed to the same code so all clients are always operating on the most up-to-date system.
3) Customer Service. It is important to understand the customer service model of the benefits administrator. Is the customer service team set up as a cross-functional group built to support any client need, or is the work segmented into siloed work groups? Will you have a different team guiding you through implementation than servicing your needs?
4) Data Integrity & Processing. Given the recent breaches in data at mega-retailers, it is extremely important to understand the data integrity measures put in place by the benefits administrator. What kind of hosting facility and protections are in place to secure data? Is the data sitting in a closet or is it stored at a Tier 1 data hosting facility? What type of training is applied to the people handling the sensitive data to ensure its protected? Additionally, it is important to understand the data processing practices. Are quarterly audits performed with the payroll system for reconciliation? Are the ongoing file feeds to the carriers verified with ongoing error/discrepancy reports?
5) Services. This one may seem obvious, but consider your business. Where are you at today? Where do you expect to be tomorrow or in five years? Would you consider outsourcing more activities in the future? If so, you need to understand the services offered beyond what you may be looking for today. While online enrollment and file feeds may be at the core of your needs today, consider what additional services may be options for the future, such as: COBRA services, billing and financial reporting, Service Center (or call center), document fulfillment, etc.