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November 25, 2015

Missing the Boat on ACA Online Tools

Summary:

A staggering number of brokers are talking about which tool to use to automate implementation of ACA benefits. They're too late!

Photo Courtesy of Simon Blackley

The number of brokers considering a human resources insurance system (HRIS) to handle compliance with the Affordable Care Act is staggering. It’s the No. 1 topic of conversation at every industry function I attend. I just left a top producer event for a carrier, and when I shared with a group of attendees that we we not only have fully embraced a tool for this, but make it mandatory for doing business with us, some jaws dropped.

Certainly, the number of options have proliferated as of the last couple of years. But let me say, and please excuse me for being blunt, if you are considering an HRIS now, you are way too late! If you don’t already have a single system you work with AND the people in-house to manage and build that system, you are way behind.

Many brokers I talk to think that picking and paying for a system is a big decision and a big investment…well, in my experience, that’s the easy and far less expensive part. By far the bigger piece is having the in-house experts needed to build the tools for each client, educate each client and get the employers and employees dependent on it for their day-to-day concerns related to benefits (and those little things called IRS codes 6055 and 6056). In my agency, our in-house lead, Joan, can get me from employer decisions to open enrollment-ready in less than four hours!

In my humble opinion, this tool is not something you use for your biggest and best clients. After all, there is a huge learning curve for most of us on this technology, and that curve is only elongated if you use the system sparingly. Instead, if you embrace it fully, wrap your arms around it and give it a big hug, it becomes more valuable to you and your clients in a far quicker fashion.

If you are already an expert in a particular system and have in-house resources to build it and use it, you are light years ahead of your competition. And if you do this, doesn’t this put you on par with Silicon Valley start-ups the technology front while blowing them away on the solutions side? Some industry gossip puts start-ups’ retention around 60%!

A little advice, if I may, on which system to go with:

1) Make sure there is no per-user, per-month (PEPM) charge.

2) Make sure the system is not tied to a particular carrier.

3) Make sure the employee interface is beautiful.

4) Make sure it can handle all clients, large and small.

5) Make sure it has very terrific ACA capabilities — which should be obvious.

6) Most importantly, make sure you get behind a system that you have 100% confidence will stay ahead of the rapid changes, and will always be dedicated to brokers.

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About the Author

David Contorno is president of Lake Norman Benefits. Contorno is a native New Yorker and entered this field at the young age of 14, doing marketing for a major life insurance company.

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