Benefits brokers and HR benefits managers, you’re stressed, andfor good reason.

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So maybe you didn’t catch these new or redesigned HR andbenefits-oriented products or announcements recently. Here theyare, just in time for open enrollment.

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Related: Employers offer cutting-edge benefits tostay competitive

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#1: Help with open enrollment

Open enrollment can be confusing for employees, many of whomcan't even define what "deductible" means. (It's true -- someone,somewhere, has studied this and counted the number of people whodon't understand the concept.) PlanSource, a provider ofcloud-based benefits and human capital management software, hascreated what it calls "an Open Enrollment Communications Kit" tohelp with this challenging time.

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The kit is for brokers, human resources teams, and benefitsprofessionals who need to communicate benefits information toemployees.It includes examples of daily emails and text messages,customizable posters, flyers and postcards in a variety of themes,educational videos and messaging templates.

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A sample timeline can help with marketing a communicationscampaign from beginning to end of open enrollment. The kit can beseen in a webinar you sign up for. Access it at the PlanSourcewebsite.

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Related: Study: What benefits do employeesgo for on private exchanges?

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Photo: Getty

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#2: Managing the hiring, onboarding, and benefits process

Isn't it gratifying when computers can actually take on dutiesyou find tedious? Unless you find the onboarding and data entryprocess extremely interesting and life-affirming, of course.Software from Flock helps manage HR, benefits, and compliance, andnow it's adding an applicant tracking system from Greenhouse forhiring, onboarding, and managing employees.

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The partnership will let HR import candidate information intoFlock, with the goal of streamlining the hiring and onboardingprocess. The HR platform is available for small to midsizebusinesses and insurance brokers can subsidize or sponsor thebenefits administration module. Learn more at the Flock website.

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Photo: iStock

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#3: 5 ACA plans to be offered to Arizona residents

Okay, technically it's not a solution. Still, someone you knowmight want to know that five different Affordable Care Act planswill be available during open enrollment from Blue Cross BlueShield of Arizona (BCBSAZ).

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The five include EverydayHealth, Portfolio and SimpleHealth.Members who enroll in the plans use their primary care provider tocoordinate their care. The ACA plans will be offered in 14 ofArizona's 15 counties, and, as you know, open enrollment runs fromNovember 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017.

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To help find the right plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield is pointingArizonans toward their local broker or to Cover Arizona.

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Related: Confusion reigns as open enrollment periodapproaches

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#4: Online benefits administration

This is the year of partnering in the benefits industry.Employee benefits, HR and payroll provider BenefitMall ispartnering with EaseCentral to offer additional online benefitsadministration.

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The goal is to help with completing enrollments in a timely way.Brokers will now be able to choose between EaseCentral's all-in-onesoftware solution and BenefitMall's online benefits administrationsystem, EmployerFocus. Learn more at the BenefitMallwebsite.

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Photo: iStock

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#5: New option to enroll employees in voluntary benefits

Did we mention partnering? Yes? Transamerica is partnering withMaxwell Health to expand enrollment options for key employeebenefits.

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The partnership will enable Transamerica to offer help toemployers in streamlining enrollment, administration, reporting,communication, and engagement processes, while allowing benefitadvisors to browse, compare and quote benefits in an intuitive way.To learn more, see the Transamerica website or call 866-872-6726.

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Related: IRS blocks employer's health plan threatstrategy

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#6: New ACA compliance and reporting solutions

Affordable Care Act reporting is pretty darn fun. Still, there'sprobably something else you'd rather be doing, like going to thedentist for a root canal. This newly designed product fromSyncStream Solutions offers both Affordable Care Act compliance andreporting.

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The new solutions were designed to meet compliance requirementsthrough a guided workflow that marries employer data with ACAanalytics to achieve ACA compliance and provide the assurance ofauditability.

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SyncStream's product offers employee tracking and ACA full-timestatus determination, generates the proper forms to meet IRSrequirements, populates IRS indicator codes based on businesslogic, and normalizes employer data in to ACA-compliant language,among other features. For more information, visit the SyncStream Solutionswebsite.

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