The details of how the 2010 health care reform will actually be implemented are still pretty vague. However, it is clear that many organizations will need to make changes in how they handle health benefits. Employers who have never offered medical insurance before will likely experience the most difficult transition. Those who do currently provide coverage will be looking for ways to reduce administrative costs in the face of increasingly complex reporting requirements. For both groups, a move away from paper based processes is imperative. The inefficiency, inflexibility, and inaccuracy of using paper forms for benefits enrollment and management is only going to be heightened with an influx of newly covered employees.

It’s Time for Employers of All Sizes to Get Online

Automating benefits administration is something larger companies have been doing for quite some time. However, this is now an approach even smaller organizations should consider. The cost for developing and implementing such an application in-house is still prohibitive. However, with the niche solutions provided by vendors in the SaaS HR sphere, companies of any size can afford to take their benefits admin online.

Some employers will choose narrowly targeted software products provided by their health insurance partner. Others will decide on a broader solution that helps handle administration of multiple types of benefits from within the HR department. Then, there is always the option of outsourcing the benefits administration aspect entirely to a third party. In each of these situations, an SaaS solution may be involved since more and more HR industry service providers are hosting their applications in the cloud for web based delivery. This allows employees to access their benefits information online for enrollment and updating – significantly reducing HR’s workload.

Systems Need to Promote Best Practices

As Annmarie Fini (VP of Benefitfocus) points out, another advantage of a properly developed SaaS solution is that it promotes accuracy and allows auditing. With benefits costs per employee slated to rise substantially, employers will want to make more certain than ever that they are offering benefits only to eligible workers. She also notes that substantial numbers of health insurers are moving toward web based administration of their own processes. Employers who are already using compatible software applications will have an easier time integrating with these programs. Implementing Universal Onboarding software that captures new hire data in a format that can be transmitted to benefits partners is an example of this type of smart preparation.

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