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Understanding Employee Benefits Administration and Its Timeframes
Get the most out of your employee benefits program with our guide to benefits administration, complete with timeframes for key tasks and processes.
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Offering competitive benefits is a great way to attract and retain key employees. But when you consider the time commitment required for benefits administration tasks, is it worth it?
That is a legitimate question, as there is much more involved than simply paying monthly premiums. To give you an idea of what is required, our team of experts has given time estimates for the following general benefits administration tasks.
Breaking down benefits administration tasks
Beyond the initial setup of benefits and open enrollment tasks, there are multiple benefits administration tasks that will keep you busy. For example, employees come and go at various times during the month. This fluctuation may require you to term coverage mid-month with prorated premiums or carry coverage through the end of the month prior to dropping it, depending on your plan or carrier’s rules.
Other benefits administration tasks include:
- Reconciling benefits plans and making payments, ensuring that all collected premiums and employee enrollments match the carrier’s invoice: 1 hour per plan, per month
- Contacting new hires to remind them about the open enrollment window and answer questions: 15-30 minutes per employee
- Responding to employee questions about benefits, including orientations for new employees, questions to understand benefits plan, and walking through enrollment portal: 3 hours per week for a company of 50 employees
- Assisting employees with a medical claim that escalates to the carrier: 45-60 minutes per claim
- Monitoring and tracking employee eligibility: 30 minutes per week when done manually
- Administering COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), assuming all plans are tracked digitally:
- 15 minutes per termed employee to see which plans they were enrolled in
- 20 minutes per employee to send out NPM (New Plan Member) notice and inform them of COBRA rights
- Performing nondiscrimination testing for Form 5500: 3 days per report
- Conducting ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) compliance: 3 days per plan
- Completing disclosure of Medicare status to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid): 15 minutes per employee
- Informing qualified employees for Medicare Part D if the plan is or is not credible: 3 days (with waiting in between) per year
- Reporting state-specific paid leaves: 15-30 minutes per employee, per state
- Managing ACA (Affordable Care Act) compliance, including 1094s and 1095s: 40 hours per year to put data together and send to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
- Responding to annual SOC audit needs: 3-5 hours per audit
- Managing National Medical Support Notices (NMSN), including qualifying cost percentage, processing enrollment, notifying employees of the NMSN, completing forms, faxing (or sending in a secure email) forms to their office of origin, processing revoked NMSN, and collecting employer health questionnaires: 30-60 minutes per employee
Overall, small business owners estimate spending 1.6 hours per week on typical benefits administration tasks, with more time required for employers with more staff members and/or multiple benefit plan options offered.
Are benefits administration tasks worth the time?
While benefits administration tasks are arduous, providing physical and mental health benefits has a direct impact on your bottom line. Employees who have access to good healthcare have lower rates of absenteeism and stress and higher rates of productivity.
Supporting employees’ overall health also plays a critical role in your recruiting and retention strategy. For instance:
- A 2022 employee survey noted that healthcare is still the most important type of benefit offered to employees.
- Another survey found that 66% of respondents were waiting to review their company’s new benefits offerings before choosing to stay with the company or looking elsewhere for work.
- A different survey found that 1 in 6 workers would even stay in an unwanted job for the benefits.
We can help you stay compliant with employee benefits timeframes
Outsourcing to Stratus HR provides your staff with immediate access to Fortune 500-level benefits, giving you a competitive edge for hiring and retaining talent over comparable businesses that do not have the bandwidth to procure multiple plan options.
Stratus HR also provides a team of experts who manage the administrative burden of offering those benefits, from enrollments and reconciliations to legal inquiries and reports.
For more information, request a free consultation today!