Editor's note: When this broker article was published in2016, the ACA was still around, adding stress to employers tryingto get ready for open enrollment season.

|

So here we are in 2017, heading into open enrollmentsoon.

|

So much has changed in a year, and yet so much stays thesame. Employers are still dealing with the ACA, still managingheavy administrative burdens, and still feeling stress.

|

This is where you come in. Enter the trustworthy,knowledgeable broker, ready to help:

|

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), new technology and shiftingdemographics have created a perfectstorm that’s forever changed the benefits landscape.

|

Thanks to the ACA, employees now have more benefits options thanever before, making it even more important for HR leaders to ensuretheir workforce is educated on what benefits are being offered andwho is eligible.

|

According to the most recent ADP Midsized Business Owners Study, some 60percent of those surveyed said the ACA has made benefitsadministration more complex. But very few had hired additionalstaff to support ACA-related tasks.

|

This year also presents a new challenge, as it marks the firsttime businesses will receive “marketplace notices” that aregenerated by the marketplace or the U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services. These are activated when an employee applies forand receives a premium tax credit or a direct subsidy to help payfor health care coverage from state or federalmarketplaces.

|

The notice gives the employer a chance to appeal the premium taxcredit, which can lead to even more paperwork for HR leaders who are already busypreparing to embark on another open enrollmentseason.

|

So how can benefits brokers help ease the administrativeburden?

|

Here are a few tips.

Start the conversation early

During pre-enrollment meetings, incorporate questions that aregeared toward assessing broader business objectives, strategicgoals for 2017, and the human capital initiatives the company isconsidering to meet those goals. Assessing those needs now will putyou in the driver’s seat so you can help your clients deliver themaximum return on investments they make in their people by definingthe right combination of technology, change management, processimprovement, service and on-going support.

|

Businesses need and expect more from their brokers. They arelooking beyond traditional insurance and benefits administrationand need expertise in all areas of human capital. Brokers whoembrace this by providing insight through benchmarking data andanalytics, offering set up, connection and optimization support, aswell as a variety of ongoing service models (either directly orthrough partners) will continue to gain market share over those whodon’t.

Get ahead of compliance concerns

According to a recent survey by the Council of Insurance Agents andBrokers, the most difficult function for employers to accomplishin-house is complete and efficient compliance with legal andregulatory requirements. Regulatory uncertainty has many companiesworried about the design and stability of long-term benefits plans.Brokers who build benefits plans that reflect potential regulatoryoutcomes give employers more confidence that future regulatory riskis being managed. When it comes to health care reform, there aremany resources available that can help brokers navigate the ACA.Coming to the table aware of future regulatory challenges andhelping clients understand potential penalties can help you standout, stay ahead and stay in control.

Discuss innovative, integrated technologysolutions

The most recent ACA reporting requirements demand thatdata be pulled on payroll, HR, leave of absence and health carebenefits, which is challenging if this data is stored on separatesystems. Advocate for a single integrated technology solution wherepayroll, benefits, HR, and time and attendance systems can all talkto each other. This will create less administrative effort on theHR staff so they can spend more time focusing on employeeengagement. It will also make it easy for employees to access allof their HR information in one place, whether online or on a mobiledevice.

Use new technology to take the wheel

As clients increasingly expect you to be an expert on“all things HCM,” keeping them updatedcan get tricky when you have to deal with multiple vendors and datasources. Some HCM providers are now offering technology designed tolet brokers be as hands-on as their clients want in order tosupport their HCM needs. With the client’s permission, some vendorsnow let you see all of your mutual clients’ information under oneumbrella, especially benefits related information, which allowsyour teams to become more efficient during enrollment season. Forexample, instead of having to wait for HR to give you census data,your firm can run a report on the client’s behalf and pull thisdata for them. Communication is more important than ever and toolslike these enable you to identify those client employees that areeligible but not participating in plans so you can more easily helptarget education and marketing efforts directly to them.

|

Time is money to your firm and open enrollment is one of themost important times of year for you to shine with your clients andprovide unexpected but added value. Seize the opportunity to showoff your skills as a trusted consultant on everything related tohuman capital — beyond just insurance and benefitsadministration.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.