Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category

COBRA Administration: Why You Need Benefits Connection

Friday, February 8th, 2013

COBRA Administration

Why You Need Benefits Connection

In your business, whether you are a small business owner or the Human Resources Manager of a huge corporation, you know how difficult it is to stay current with all the ever-changing health care rules and regulations. For many of you, staying up to date on all the changes in health creates a drain on your resources, both in time spent maintaining the necessary knowledge and understanding the systems, and in profits when and if mistakes are made and your company is fined for noncompliance.

Your problem is even more difficult when managing with the complex web of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, better known as COBRA. The program was designed to provide a way for your employees and their families to maintain their group health benefits after their job loss, divorce, or other loss of dependent status, known as a “Qualifying Event”.

Too many companies underestimate what is involved with COBRA administration. The complex program has a large number of requirements, such as notices, account tracking for varying time frames, and more, depending on the type of qualifying event. It is not something that most companies can, or should handle on their own.

So, what makes COBRA Administration so complex? How should I handle this for my company?

What is COBRA?

COBRA gives workers and their families who have lost their health benefits the right to choose to continue their group health benefits which had been provided by their group health plan, for limited periods of time. The circumstances for their loss of health benefits may be voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours they are working, transition between jobs, death, divorce, or other life events.

Why does my company need an outsourced COBRA administrator?

COBRA is complex to administer. You must be aware of deadlines and details that can make it difficult to be compliant with COBRA regulations. Because mistakes can be costly, in terms of fines or in lost time, it makes sense to outsource the task to an expert. That usually means you will need a third-party administrator for your benefit programs.

Benefits Connection’s COBRA administrators are experts in staying up to date on the regulations and in keeping their employer clients in compliance.

What does COBRA require from employers?

COBRA requires that employers send notices to employees, former employees and their spouses and children, and to calculate and collect premiums. Employers are required to keep track of employees who are eligible and employees who are not. They also need to have a record of who received notices and when they were sent. And finally, they need to determine whether premiums are accurate and paid on time.

What are my advantages to outsourcing COBRA administration?

In a sense, outsourcing COBRA administration can be considered a form of risk management for the employer. Because of the legal issues that surround proper administration of COBRA, it is essential that every aspect of the process is done correctly. One of the primary reasons employers outsource COBRA administration is in an effort to minimize their exposure to risk.

How can I determine if I need to outsource COBRA administration?

To determine whether or not outsourcing COBRA administration makes sense for your organization, ask yourself these three questions:

First, does the company have the time to administer COBRA correctly?

Second, is the company knowledgeable about the latest COBRA requirements?

Third, can the company afford the cost for the liability of noncompliance should it get it wrong?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, then the employer should strongly consider outsourcing COBRA administration to a professional administrator such as Benefits Connection.

What features should I look for in a COBRA administrator?

There are several features employers should expect from their COBRA administrator:

You should expect billing and collection service on a monthly basis.

You may want online credit and debit payment options available to COBRA participants.

You may want flexible remittance options that give an employer the choice of how the premium will be paid to the carrier, the employer or both.

It’s important that COBRA administrators be capable of monitoring and tracking. This would include the 60-day election period, the 45-day initial premium payment period,

the ongoing 30-day grace period and cessation of COBRA coverage.

Expect an administrator to provide user-friendly monthly activity reports that summarize billing and collection from COBRA participants.

Offering an employer a portal to view COBRA participants and activity in real-time, or even to enter information is now offering in COBRA administrators’ menu of services.

What else can I gain by outsourcing COBRA administration?

Because COBRA can be difficult to understand as well as confusing, access to experts who can walk participants through the process is essential. Employers benefit by being able to rely on an experienced COBRA administrator which understands COBRA and can answer COBRA questions from your former employees. Being able to provide 24/7 access to account information online and happily accepting participant calls are two more important factors that employers can expect from any well-rounded COBRA administration service.

And, most importantly, when you outsource with Benefits Connection, you can expect to avoid the excessive work needed for you to stay current on all COBRA regulations, and to avoid the risks associated with doing it yourself and making a mistake!

Posted in Benefits Connection Updates, FAQs, News for Brokers & Consultants, News for Employers | No Comments »

A Healthy Pursuit of the American Dream

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

How do you interpret The American Dream?

Yes, The American Dream – that idealized life that all of us in this great country have within our reach – what does it mean to you? Does it mean owning your own home, having lots of freedom, a great job, or your own prosperous business? Whatever the American Dream means to you, individually, the core necessity of that dream is good health.

Without good health, your own prosperous business will flounder.

Without good health, your great job may be lost.

And without good health, you may not be able to keep the nice house that you worked and saved to attain.

The American Dream is the reason Benefits Connection exists – to connect every individual to the insurance benefits that will give them the best shot at maintaining their good health, and thereby save their dreams.

How do we do this? We do it in three ways: Teamwork, Giving, and Individual Service.

1.    Teamwork.

Here at Benefits Connection, part of our core philosophy is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wise statement, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Working as a well-oiled machine, our team is made up of unique individuals, each with special talents and abilities critical to the success of the company, and to its goal of always providing the best possible service for our clients. With our distinctively individual abilities comes specific roles and responsibilities, so that, rather than considering teamwork to be a way for some to usurp their own responsibilities, each of us recognizes our personal responsibility to our clients, our entire team, and to the company as a whole.

To foster the team principle, we always encourage and celebrate each other’s successes. Knowing that our contributions are valuable creates in each of us a desire to do more, and to do it better.

Instilled in each of us as individuals, and as part of our core culture, is for each team member to recognize that each person’s actions / inactions affect every facet of the company, and therefore affect our clients, for whom our goal is to always provide the best service that we possibly can provide.

With our successful application of the teamwork principle, each member of our team, and each one of our clients, has the ability to reach their own interpretation of The American Dream.

2.    Giving.

It is a proven phenomenon that the more one gives, the more is received. You may believe that this is a Biblical principle, or you may attribute it to Karma, or you may simply say, “What goes around comes around”.  However a person looks at the phenomenon, there is so much ample proof of its existence that we all believe that it truly happens.

When we, as individuals or as businesses, give to others, we not only assist in the abundance and prosperity of those receiving our gifts, but we receive abundance and prosperity in return.

Here at Benefits Connection, one of our core philosophies is a commitment to giving.  To demonstrate our sincerity in the philosophy of giving, we encourage our associates’ participation in community and civic affairs. Benefits Connection employees are happy to pay $5 per week to “Dress Casual” while at work. In a business generally populated by people in suits, this is a novel approach, and is much appreciated by our team.

100% of the monies collected from employees in this program are matched by us and used for charitable gifts.

And what do we receive in response to this universal law? As a company, we receive loyal clients and an excellent reputation in our community. As individuals, we receive an increase in our disposable income – after all, we don’t need to come to work every day in a $300 suit! There are many other ways that we see abundance coming to us as a result of our giving, in both small and large ways, both individually and as a company. And the abundance that comes in to the company is useful in helping us to improve our services to our clients.

And, because of our commitment to giving, we are enabling those who receive our gifts, our team members, and our clients, to have a better chance to live their interpretation of The American Dream.

3.    Individualized Service.

Another core part of our philosophy here at Benefits Connection is that we always give every client individual, personal, human service. Because individualized service is such a rarity in business, many clients come to us, or stay with us, because of our very personal, knowledgeable service.

Each client is assigned a dedicated account representative, and our customer service lines are answered by one of our specialized Customer Service Representatives, not an automated attendant. This sounds basic, but in today’s world of technology, the human touch is often lost. People are talking to machines and pushing buttons for service and information – our clients deserve better!

Just read through a few of our value statements to see how we give our clients individualized, great service:

We will always provide prompt, accurate, and courteous services to our clients.
We will always communicate and document critical information to the proper people.
We will always service our clients regardless of our area of responsibility.
We will always be courteous and respectful to our clients and to each other.

With this personal, exceptional service, we give and receive a basic need of every human being – to be treated with respect. A person who is treated with respect has the confidence to go out into the world and reach out for their vision of The American Dream.

Living The American Dream

Teamwork, Giving, and Individualized Service are the three philosophical cornerstones that ensure the success of Benefits Connection, the individual team members of Benefits Connection, and each of our individual clients. We are dedicated to providing each client with a unique level of excellence in customer service, and “Connecting People and Benefits with Service Beyond Your Expectations!”

Yes, at Benefits Connection, The American Dream is alive and waiting for us all to pursue!

Posted in Benefits Connection Updates, Community Involvement, FAQs, News for Brokers & Consultants, News for Employees, News for Employers | No Comments »

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