Employers increasingly relying on technology to distribute SBCs

Technology is taking a leading role when it comes to distributing a company's summary of benefits and coverage, especially in light of the Affordable Care Act. 

According to a survey by HighRoads, 86 percent of employers are using technological platforms to send SBCs to the ranks.

As part of the ACA, employers must provide a separate SBC for all health plan options. Under this regulation, roughly half of respondents say they have had to create more than 10 separate SBCs, and 25 percent of respondents report producing between 25 and 100 SBCs while 6 percent of respondents say they have made more than 100 SBCs.

Many respondents find technology can help manage costs while distributing SBCs, but paper still play a role as 41 percent of respondents say they are also producing hard copies. Only 14 percent of respondents say they are purely using paper copies for distribution.

“We see both employers and payers turning to technology to gain control over the complex task of generating SBCs,” said said Kim Buckey, principal of compliance communications practice for HighRoads. “Electronic distribution channels not only reduce costs and a company’s carbon footprint, they can get documents into consumers’ hands quickly and provide immediate access from any location.”

Respondents also report some trouble with the new SBC regulations.

While 45 percent of respondents say the prepopulated SBC content puzzled plan participants, 37 percent of respondents say they had a hard time keeping content to eight pages or coordinating the SBC with other enrollment material.

SBCs are meant to offer plan participants basic information regarding their health plan options, and this requirement is mandated for all markets, HighRoads says. With SBCs, the intention is to help plan participants compare plans once the state and federal markets are implemented. According to a February ConsumersUnion survey, only half of respondents report recalling their SBCs.  

HighRoads says that most employers tend to distribute much information on their plans during open enrollment and throughout the year, which could be why SBCs are going unnoticed. The majority of respondents say they heard about SBCs before they were distributed; however, it’s unlikely the SBCs were noticed unless the purpose of SBCs was communicated.

“The apparent disconnect between employer and employee perception of the usefulness of SBCs emphasizes the need for robust communications around health care reform, what it means for employees, and what tools the employer will provide,” Buckey said.

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