When Automation Isn’t Easy: Exchanging Data with Benefits Carriers

The continuing rise in today’s benefits costs makes it necessary to shop around for the best-value benefits providers. But once you’ve chosen your carriers, each one may have a different set of rules and formats for submitting your employee benefits data. From spreadsheets to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the many variable formats involved in automating the electronic transfer of benefits data to multiple providers proves to be a daunting challenge.

If you struggle to send electronic files, with multiple customized formats, to each of your benefits carriers, Abra Benefits Connect will save you time and frustration. Abra Benefits Connect integrates with Abra HR and simplifies the back-end of the enrollment process between the employer and the carriers.

Sage Abra customers have two choices for submitting benefits enrollment information to their carriers. You can submit the data electronically, according to each carrier’s formatting and data specifications, or you can submit paper forms. Electronic files offer many advantages, including the ability to automate the process, thus saving time, as well as a reduction in errors since your carrier imports the data you provide directly into their system without any manual data re-entry. It also helps ensure that no employee fails to enter the system, creating a “missed enrollment” and causing confusion for the carrier, corporate benefits administrator and employee.

Currently, most carriers indicate a strong preference for electronic submission – especially for companies with more than a small number of employees. Some carriers push the issue even further, offering a discounted rate for electronic processing, or charging a fee for manual data entry if your company cannot successfully submit data electronically.

Yet, for many small and medium-sized businesses, the responsibility for creating these electronic submissions falls entirely on the HR staff. If you have a limited IT staff, it may be difficult to get them involved in extracting data from your HRMS, and if your company does not have in-house IT resources, the only help available may be from an outside consultant.

To help make your job easier and remove the headache from electronic benefits submissions, Sage Software recently introduced a new service, Abra Benefits Connect. This service extracts benefits data from Abra HR and securely automates communication of employee benefits enrollment data with insurance and benefits carriers, eliminating the need to submit paper enrollment forms or create and maintain customized electronic file formats. Abra Benefits Connect is secure, and supports the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ANSI X12 834 specifications for benefit enrollment and maintenance transactions.

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