In the best of times, benefits administration for pooled groups—including trusts and associations—is complex.
These days, that complexity is amplified, and groups need to focus on several specific areas in order to maintain high-quality service as well as the health of the pool.
Maintaining a level or increasing number of lives is vital to pooled groups, where costs and risk are spread across participating employers and their employees. In the corporate world, HR and benefits staff are aware of upcoming furloughs, leaves of absence or terminations. For pooled group administrators, the first knowledge they may have of workforce changes for a participating group is when those changes come through the system.
And, these aren’t normal, small-scale or cyclical adjustments. In the past few months, the US economy has shed a record number of jobs. Earlier this year, we had record unemployment; however, since March millions of people have become unemployed, including many that worked for an employer that belongs to a pool.
Employees may have been furloughed and will be reactivated at some point. They may have been placed on a leave, some of which have since turned into terminations. Some people had hours reduced. Others were terminated outright. These scenarios have different benefits impacts, including communications, billing and COBRA, which is where the complexity of pooled groups really comes into play.
That’s why it’s never been more important that the fundamentals associated with pooled group administration are functioning effectively and efficiently. This ensures group administrators can continue pool management in the face of potentially significant movement in their pool’s population.
At the end of the day, a pooled group needs the continued participation of its members to remain viable and solvent. Attrition or lack of growth can significantly undermine the success of a pooled group, driving up costs and driving down service.
When the headcount within member groups shrinks because of outside economic influences, the pool still needs to maintain a high level of service, accuracy and accountability. In fact, these may be more important than ever in the face of widespread workforce changes. How a pool manages in these tough times may well be a predictor of success in the new normal.
For more information on how technology can help support pooled groups at this time, get our e-book: 6 Ways Benefits Technology Can Buoy Pooled Groups below.