Escaping the Trap of Manual Benefits Administration

As a leader responsible for managing employee benefits, you’re no stranger to the day-to-day struggles of manual benefits processes and programs. Ensuring compliance with evolving regulations, delivering a satisfying user experience, and effectively managing benefits can feel like you’re running uphill. This is especially true if you’re using an outdated system requiring manual data entry and processes managed outside the system.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You’re not alone. For organizations managing multiple employer arrangements like association health plans (AHPs) or multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs), the complexities multiply. Many organizations managing benefits for multiple employers are trapped with inefficiencies of manual processes. Let’s explore these complexities in more detail.

Read more below. 

Increased Risk of Errors and Compliance Issues

The reliance on manual processes significantly heightens the risk of human error. These processes are notorious for their susceptibility to errors, such as those that can occur when busy benefit administrators are juggling data entry across multiple systems. The most prevalent pitfalls include data entry errors, inconsistent record-keeping, and misinterpretation of complex regulations.

A recent survey by the ADP Research Institute revealed that nearly 50 percent of HR respondents expressed a lack of confidence in their ability to keep pace with the ever-changing rules and regulations. They anticipate even more challenges in the compliance landscape in the next one to three years. Less than 10 percent of respondents believe that the compliance burden will ease. These errors can result in fines, legal issues, and a loss of trust from employees and stakeholders, painting a stark picture of the risks involved.

The dynamic landscape of benefits and insurance regulations adds to the frustration of benefits administration. Staying up-to-date with compliance changes can be exhausting and risky. The lack of automated compliance checks can result in non-compliance, leading to financial penalties and reputational damage.

Inefficient and Time-Consuming Workflows

The inefficiencies of manual benefits administration are not just frustrating; they’re costly. McKinsey research shows that typical HR departments still spend nearly 60 percent of their time and resources on transactional and operational HR. Ernst & Young conducted an extensive study to estimate the total costs associated with completing manual HR tasks. That study revealed that the average cost of a single point of data entry is $4.78. Imagine the potential for growth and service improvement if this time could be better spent on initiatives that help grow your organization and better serve your health plan members.

Manual processes can lead to bottlenecks and delays. For example, during open enrollment, the lack of automation can result in longer processing times at your insurance carriers, increasing employee frustration and additional workload for HR teams. According to a 2021 study by UiPath, 67% of employees said they waste up to 4.5 hours a week on tasks that could be automated.

This issue is compounded when managing benefits administration for multiple employer arrangements.

Frustrating User Experience for Employers and Employees

The absence of streamlined processes can frustrate both employers and employees. For employers, the inability to quickly access plan information leads to delays and increased administrative burden. For employees, a frustrating enrollment experience and difficulties finding their benefits information can lead to lower satisfaction with their benefits packages.

An easy benefits experience is crucial for employee satisfaction and engagement. About a third of employees do not feel confident in their ability to select the best benefits for themselves and their families. Forbes Advisor found that 40% of employers said that employees would leave their jobs to find roles that offered better employee benefits. Further, they found that only about half (54%) of employees say they’re content with the benefits their current employers offer. This dissatisfaction can lead to lower employee morale and higher turnover rates.

Employees expect a user-friendly, intuitive experience when interacting with their benefits. Manual systems fail to provide real-time access to information, resulting in numerous calls and emails to HR for assistance. In our modern online self-service era, employees expect a similar shopping and customer service experience at work. Without a modern benefits administration system, HR teams are bogged down with questions from frustrated employees, diminishing the overall employee experience.

Limited Data Visibility and Analytics Capabilities

Access to real-time data and analytical tools is essential for making informed decisions. However, manually maintained systems cannot often provide meaningful insights. Nine out of ten (90%) organizations with centralized benefits systems were able to respond quickly to changes, compared to just one in two (55%) of those with decentralized systems.

Without robust analytics, it’s challenging for an organization to identify trends, evaluate the effectiveness of benefits programs, or make data-driven decisions to optimize plan designs. This limited visibility reduces an organization's ability to respond proactively to issues and adapt its benefits strategy to meet employees' evolving needs.

Manual Billing Challenges

Without automation, managing billing is challenging, especially for multiple-employer arrangements. You often grapple with convoluted fee schedules in offline spreadsheets, attempting to align them with participant activity in the benefits administration platform and painstakingly inputting data into your accounting software, while crossing your fingers for accuracy.

The absence of integrations and automation can swiftly derail billing and invoicing processes, transforming them into laborious tasks that drain time and resources. Such manual approaches risk errors and strain the ability to maintain the precision and flexibility necessary to manage your billing process effectively. The headache and obstacles of manually reconciling multiple invoices from multiple carriers underscore the urgent need for innovative solutions to streamline workflows, enhance accuracy, and expedite processes.

Thankfully, there is a comprehensive solution to these challenges. Transitioning to a centralized and automated benefits administration platform can revolutionize how you manage employee benefits programs.

Improved Accuracy and Compliance

An integrated, automated platform with built-in compliance expertise can reduce errors and ensure your benefits programs comply with evolving regulations. By automating data entry and integrating compliance checks into the workflows, you can minimize the risk of human error and ensure adherence to laws and regulations.

For instance, automatic updates and alerts about regulatory changes can help your team stay informed and compliant without the need for constant manual monitoring. This reduces the administrative burden and provides peace of mind, knowing that your benefits administration always aligns with current regulations.

This is especially true when implementing a true consolidated billing process. Automating this process ensures accuracy when dealing with multiple invoices, statements, and varying rosters from all your benefit partners.

Streamlined and Efficient Processes

Automating repetitive tasks like enrollment, eligibility verification, and claims processing can dramatically improve the efficiency of your benefits administration, freeing up your team to concentrate on more strategic work. Automated workflows can handle most administrative tasks, ensuring processes are completed quickly and accurately. Additionally, direct integrations such as EDI, API, and 834 files, allow for more automated data flow, reducing human intervention and thereby reducing errors and risks.

Imagine the benefits of automated open enrollment, where employees can easily select and manage their benefits options through a user-friendly shopping experience. Better yet, imagine the benefits of automated and true consolidated billing. This reduces HR's workload and speeds up the entire process, resulting in a positive experience for everyone involved.

Enhanced User Experience for Employers and Employees

A well-designed benefits administration platform offers a user-friendly experience for both employers and their employees. Self-service capabilities and personalized communication improve satisfaction and engagement. Employees can access their benefits information in real time, make changes as needed, and receive timely communications about their benefits choices.

Personalized dashboards make it easy for employees to understand their benefits, reducing the need for frequent HR assistance. This enhances the employee experience and empowers them to make informed decisions about their benefits, creating a healthier organization. This increases employee productivity at work, reducing absenteeism and turnover.

Robust Data and Analytics Capabilities

A centralized platform with integrated data and reporting tools provides visibility into your benefits programs. This data allows you to make data-driven decisions that help optimize plan design and drive better outcomes for your health plan members.

Advanced analytics can help you identify trends, understand employee engagement with benefits options, and measure the effectiveness of your benefits programs. With configurable dashboards and real-time reporting, you can quickly access the information you need to make better decisions and continuously improve your benefits offerings.

Manual benefits administration challenges create an increased risk of errors, inefficient processes, a poor user experience, and limited data visibility. However, evolving to a comprehensive, automated benefits administration platform can address these challenges and deliver significant value to multiple employer arrangements.

With improved accuracy, simple workflows, an enhanced user experience, and robust data and analytics capabilities, open enrollment and year-round benefits administration can feel more like running downhill with far less frustration for every stakeholder in your benefits plan.

Ready to leave behind the inefficiencies of manual benefits management? 

Contact us today to learn more about how Vimly’s comprehensive, automated benefits administration platform can revolutionize your approach.