Finding the Right Benefits Technology Partner - 8 Crucial Questions

Finding the Right Benefits Technology Partner - 8 Crucial Questions

Managing benefits for a small or mid-sized business can feel like navigating a labyrinth. While employee benefits are essential for attracting and retaining top talent, managing them effectively can be a daunting task. Enter the realm of benefits administration services, promising to untangle the knots and streamline your company's well-being.

But with a multitude of providers vying for your attention, choosing the right one can feel like finding the elusive exit. Fear not, intrepid employers! This guide equips you with key questions to grill potential partners and ensures you secure a service that fosters employee satisfaction and supports your bottom line.

Ready to demystify the benefits administration maze? Dive in and discover the questions that will lead you to a partnership that thrives!

1. What is extent of their experience, capabilities, and expertise?

A benefits administration company will, ideally, have experience working with employers of your size and in your industry. They should have solutions to handle all the types of coverages you offer (health, dental, vision, life, disability, etc.), including voluntary and non-insurance options, if those are important to you. And, ideally the technology should provide a single, secure, user-friendly, integrated enrollment and management experience. 

2. Do they offer billing services?

If so, ask if the billing includes carrier payments and reconciliation. Many benefits administrators claim to offer consolidated billing, however this often means giving you access to a report that you can use to reconcile the bills you receive direct from each carrier. Full service consolidated billing includes remitting payments to carriers, a process that automates reconciliation, and discrepancy management.

3. Do they offer resources to help you keep up with the latest compliance requirements?

To some extent, using any eligibility rule-based platform that automates various day-to-day benefits management tasks will alleviate some compliance risk. However, while most benefits administration firms will not advise you directly, look for one that provides access to expert content that explains the latest regulations and provides guidance on how it impacts your business. Some providers also give clients online tools for looking up specific issues, on demand.

4. What level of customer support do they provide?

A good benefits administrator will assign a dedicated account manager who understands your company and its needs, who will help you through implementation and renewals. Also important is a customer support team that offers multiple contact channels to you and your employees and takes the necessary time to understand and help resolve day-to-day eligibility, plan and technology questions.

5. Are fees easy to understand, transparent, and aligned with your budget?

Most benefits administration firms impose setup and per member, per month fees. While the amount of those fees varies greatly and can be mitigated by technology subsidies or other arrangements the administrator has with various carriers, make sure to ask about potential additional fees for specific services or integrations. It pays to also ask how their pricing compares to other providers in the region.

6. Does the administrator offer some level of data exchange with existing payroll and HR systems?

At a minimum, a benefits administrator should have technology and reporting capabilities to make updating your other HR systems easier. But for employers wanting to reduce or remove duplicate data entry between both systems, the administrator should have the ability and resources to work with your existing payroll and HR vendors to create an automated process. Some benefits administrators can accept an incoming eligibility file from an existing benefits administration platform, giving the employer access to additional services like combined billing, consolidated EDI, and COBRA administration.

7. Is the admnistrator willing to provide a few references?

Don't be shy about asking for references. While it's true that you will be connected to happy clients, their feedback should temper any hyperbole and validate the benefits administrator's claims.

8. What level of privacy and security can I expect?

The level of privacy and security at any organization can be very complex and highly technical. It's difficult for most people to make sense of it and to even know what questions to ask, but it is crucial to ensuring that your company's data and the privacy of your employees is protected at all stages of services provided. At a minimum, an organization should have a security program that is regularly maintained and continually improved and follows the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) guidelines and general principles of security management. Ask for a copy of their Security Program, and if you cannot evaluate it yourself, have it reviewed by your IT department or another technical resource.

By asking these questions, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of a benefits administration service's capabilities, service level, pricing, and reputation. This will help you make an informed decision about which provider is the best fit for your small to mid-sized company.

Remember, it's important to tailor your questions to your specific needs and priorities. Feel free to add or remove questions based on what is most important to your company.