by Jessica Campbell | 7/18/16
Life happens! Employees come and go and the market changes, leading employers to require different talents as well as eliminate positions. Layoffs, terminations, new hire onboarding, and benefits administration are all part of human resources professionals’ repertoire of duties they must manage.
While it may be fulfilling for a company to experience growth and hire new employees, the opposite function that HR must also fulfill is the termination and the elimination of employee positions. Not only does this create an uncomfortable situation that certainly no HR professional ever finds easy, but it can also be emotional. No matter how much professionals try to separate their emotional side from their professional life, everyone can sympathize with a person who loses their job, especially when you consider the possible loss of their health benefits.
COBRA Continuation Health Coverage
For individuals and families alike, this is a confusing, frustrating, and financially-straining time. However, since 1986, the government has put in place help for certain terminated employees (as well as retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children) to continue their healthcare coverage despite being no longer employed with the company. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act provides employees who are terminated due to certain specific events the right to temporarily continue their group health coverage at group rates. This law is applicable to all employers with 20 or more employees, and employers are mandated to notify their employees of their COBRA right.
With that said, even the most attentive human resources professionals face an even greater challenge than COBRA education — COBRA administration.
Benefits rules, employee classification, payroll, and employee communication all change when an employee participates in the continuation of their healthcare coverage through COBRA following their termination, and all of these changes require HR to perform many time-consuming, data-critical tasks.
Furthermore, the follow-up communication with and payment collection from the former employee can extend the uncomfortable situation for up to a possible 36 months of time COBRA can be administered.
HR and their employers who understand this difficult but required HR process seek technological solutions that provide the same hands-on employee interaction, but also automate many of the manual HR administration tasks associated with COBRA benefits.
The “Human” Technology
There is a way for employers to achieve both easy, automated COBRA administration and still offer superior employee-education and the personal communication that comprise a compliant COBRA administration process.
Integrated COBRA admin tools with employee benefits technology enables HR administrators a one-click termination and COBRA administration process. Plus, the added integration of payroll and carrier systems ensures that payroll and benefits premiums will all be updated and collected precisely.
Know Before You Buy
Certainly, any intelligent CEO, CFO, and technology buyer ensures they do their research on the tools and technologies they deploy prior to purchasing. Whatever technology or tool that is implemented must be robust, flexible, as well as beneficial to all within an organization.
Employers who have done their homework know that there are many online freebies, HR platforms, and integrated payroll vendors that can perform many of the internal employee-processes and business operations—there are even tools for COBRA administration. However, these tools are not often integrated with other vendors or provide the same level of function and service as a comprehensive employee benefits administration technology solution.
A true COBRA administration tool must integrate with payroll and carrier vendors’ data feed transmissions in order to provide updates of new hires and terminations, automatically send notifications to eligible employees of their COBRA rights, as well as provide online enrollment in COBRA benefits.
Human Resources jobs are busy enough managing employed individuals’ benefits, payroll, and training, adding in unemployed individuals’ administration of COBRA can be a time-consuming, costly process that also risks government non-compliance if HR is not up-to-date with complex COBRA regulations.
With integrated COBRA technology, employers can correctly fulfil their governed obligation to provide COBRA, as well as their human need to take care of their employees beyond the employment relationship. Employers remain hands-off, while also remaining hands-on.
Employers who are considerate of their employees’ benefits rights, recognize the high risks involved with COBRA compliance, as well as appreciate their HR professional’s role in employee benefits education and administration, will implement a benefits administration technology with an integrated COBRA tool into their internal business workflow. Technology is instrumental in the growth and progress of organizations today, and those that approach internal workflows with the same finesse and refinement as they accomplish external business transactions will remain a leader in their industry.
Jessica Lynn Campbell is Marketing Executive and Content Writer for Web Benefits Design. She has a Master’s in English-Technical Communication, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and is currently obtaining a PH.D in Texts and Technology. Jessica is an expert and experienced technical communicator, author, and multi-media manager having been published on multiple media platforms including print and online. She is skilled in APA, MLA, Chicago, and Bluebook citation styles. Jessica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.