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6 myths about web-based health benefits for startups

When weighing options for benefits, many startups and small businesses have wild misunderstandings about administering web-based health benefits, so let us dispel these myths.



Startups considering offering benefits

When a small business or startup grows to the point that benefits are under consideration for team members, the daunting task of making choices forces many to procrastinate about next steps, which got us to wondering – hasn’t the web made this process better?

Bernard Health is a company that provides non-commissioned, expert advice on health insurance, and their web-based software BerniePortal has helped more than 250 employers and 10,000 employees manage benefits. Let’s just say that they know a lot about this topic. We asked founder Alex Tolbert to help us make sense of web-based benefits for startups.

In his own words, Tolbert advises that there are six common myths surrounding web-based health benefits, and we would assert that the Obamacare debacle hasn’t helped diminish any fears, so Tolbert makes this easy for all to understand:

The top 6 myths:

1. You’re not ready to take your benefits administration process online.
When starting a business, managing benefits administration and filing paperwork is the last thing a business owner wants to worry about. For startups, going online with benefits solves a lot of the normal headaches. Why? Because everything you and your employees need will all be in one place, it eliminates the need for paperwork—saving time and money, and can help you stay compliant with health care reform rules.
The answer to “are you ready to take your benefits administration online?” depends on your group.

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  • If you’re changing medical carriers this year, then the answer is almost invariably “yes.”
  • If you’re renewing everything “as is” and have a largely blue-collar workforce, then the answer is likely “no.”
  • If they are somewhere in between, then the answer is probably “it depends.”

You should talk with your broker or benefits advisor to be confident in your decision to go online and help you select a benefits administration tool you like.

2. You won’t save time by administering benefits online.
Often, startups avoid offering benefits altogether because of the cost and time required to manage the administration. However, online benefits administration can save you time and money if you choose the right platform. Make sure that the system you choose allows you to streamline and manage everything from one spot. Don’t get stuck with a system that lets you upload your benefits online but still requires your employees to print off and turn in election sheets.

3. You won’t be able to manage the entire enrollment process in one place.
Get it right from the beginning by selecting a system that allows you to manage the entire process in one place. Again, keeping everything in one place saves time and money, giving you the power to focus on growing your business.

When evaluating online systems ask:

  • Are you able to process enrollments?
  • Are your employees able to make their elections easily?
  • Are you able to manage any qualifying event changes as needed?

4. You should expect additional expenses to add extra features to your platform.
To avoid this dilemma, make sure any platform you select is cost effective and won’t charge you for every added benefit. For example: you offer health, dental, vision and life benefits to your employees but your online system will only allow you to upload three benefits without having to pay an additional fee. Before you select a benefits administration platform, be sure that you are able to upload all of your company’s benefits without being penalized.

5. You can’t afford to administer benefits online.
There are many affordable options for startups to consider. However, be aware that some web-based benefits administration companies charge lots of fees on top of their base price. Make sure you discuss every fee with your broker or benefits advisor before you decide on a solution. You will want to find out if there are set-up fees, carrier integration fees, and fees for every new carrier.

6. Your data won’t be secure.
To ensure that your data, as well as your employees’ data, is secure throughout the entire benefits administration process, thoroughly evaluate the vendors’ data security features by asking:

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  • How does the program and vendor store data?
  • Does the vendor have a cyber liability policy in place?
  • How does the vendor ensure security?

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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