New Solutions to Streamline COBRA, HSAs and More

Farewell, Benefits Friction: New Solutions to Streamline COBRA, HSAs and More

In the past, offering a robust benefits package meant managing multiple vendors across multiple systems, with limited data integration.

As a benefits professional, you know how frustrating this practice can be—the cumbersome manual processes, the poor data quality, the high risk of errors that come with it.

For your employees, this fragmented approach to benefits management is equally frustrating. Having to navigate multiple websites and accounts with different login information (which inevitably is forgotten) makes it difficult for employees to get the intended value from their benefits—much less understand that value. 

But what if you could consolidate all of your benefits management needs onto a single system? What would that mean for the efficiency of your benefits team? For the employee experience?

A few years ago, Benefitfocus began to make it possible for employers and employees to manage all of their benefits in one place through the BENEFITFOCUS® Marketplace

Since then, hundreds of companies like Fender, Hard Rock and Under Armour have been able to improve efficiency and the employee experience with a suite of solutions to, among other things:

  • Communicate quickly and clearly with employees
  • Guide smart benefits enrollment decisions
  • Execute an effective voluntary benefits strategy
  • Automate administrative tasks
  • Turn benefits data into cost-saving insight

And now, we're taking our concept of All Your Benefits. One Place® to the next level.

New Services to Streamline FSA/HRA/HSA and COBRA Management

On Oct. 4, 2017, Benefitfocus introduced two all-new solutions to further simplify the benefits management process.

BENEFITFOCUS® Consumer-Directed Healthcare Accounts (i.e., FSA, HRA and HSA) and BENEFITFOCUS® COBRA Administration enable our customers to manage these respective critical benefits through the Benefitfocus Marketplace platform—giving employers, their brokers and customers a single partner to support benefits communication, enrollment and administration throughout the year.

To better understand each of these new technology-enabled services and what they mean for our customers, I sat down with Benefitfocus Senior Vice President Jessica Brewer, who led the effort to build the services out.

Here’s an excerpt of our conversation:

LOGAN: So how did these services come about, and how did your background prepare you to lead their development?

JESSICA: [Benefitfocus CEO] Shawn Jenkins and I had been discussing solutions for consumer-directed healthcare accounts and COBRA administration for a while. We knew that how these things were being managed was not ideal for employers. We knew it was frustrating for both their benefit teams and their employees to have to bounce around different systems. And we knew that, as a leader in benefits technology innovation, Benefitfocus could and should provide a better way to deal with these complex processes.

As we started to build out these solutions as a complement to our Benefitfocus Marketplace solution, we knew there would be so much data integration involved in bringing COBRA and consumer-directed healthcare accounts into our system, and there would ultimately be many new interaction points for the end user.  My technical background – more than two decades in software engineering and most recently serving as the Senior Vice President of Engineering and Global Services at Benefitfocus –made me a natural choice to lead this new business.

LOGAN: Can you give us a quick overview of each new solution?

JESSICA: Absolutely. Let’s start with Benefitfocus Consumer-Directed Healthcare Accounts.

As out-of-pocket health care costs have increased for employees, so has the importance of flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. Our new solution improves the experience for participating employers and their employees through:

  • A simplified experience, where employees can now enroll in, open and manage accounts all on the same platform with one login. No additional steps are required to activate new accounts.
  • A mobile-friendly design, so submitting an expense for reimbursement is as easy as snapping a picture on your smartphone. Expenses are processed immediately and account balances are updated instantly.
  • The ability for benefits leaders to monitor account participation and contribution trends through Benefitfocus Marketplace, the same system they use to monitor the other areas of their benefits program.

And with Benefitfocus COBRA Administration, we’re simplifying compliance with the highly-regulated requirements of COBRA, easing the burden of a complicated, time consuming process that can create massive headaches for benefits leaders. As part of Benefitfocus Marketplace, customers benefit from:

  • Process automation, where changes in employee eligibility within Benefitfocus Marketplace trigger required COBRA communications. No manual data entry into third-party systems is necessary.
  • Timely processing to reduce compliance risk for employers, who have typically only had files transfer on a weekly basis from third-party systems.

LOGAN: So what would you say is unique about our approach with these solutions, and the value they provide?

JESSICA: It’s really all about streamlining these processes, and reducing the friction that has traditionally existed there.

Having the ability to consolidate COBRA administration and consumer-directed healthcare accounts into the same system you’re using for the rest of your benefits management needs means fewer vendor relationships to manage, higher data accuracy and better data timeliness for the employer. It just makes more logistical sense.

But speaking as an engineering person, we’re ultimately creating a better experience for the end user with these solutions, particularly on the consumer-directed healthcare accounts side.

Making it so that employees only need one login to access all of their benefits information – the fact that they could be at the doctor’s office and just pull out their phone and immediately see both what their health plan details are and what their HSA balance is – creates peace of mind for employees. Health care can be very confusing, and the more can simplify it and make it a more human-friendly experience, the better it will be for employees, their families and their employers.

Learn more about these new solutions, and access a product overview via webcast with our team!