If you’ve seen one COBRA administration system, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong. Not all third-party administrators are the same. Not all employers are the same, either. Circumstances, preferences and requirements vary, so you need a COBRA system that provides flexibility.
When looking at COBRA administration systems, you have many variables to consider. For example…
How Hands-On Do Employers Want to Be?
Some employers want direct access to the COBRA administration system so they can handle some tasks themselves. Others want a third-party administrator to handle all of the work for them, and they just want to see reports.
Both preferences are valid, but they require a different approach. That’s why you need a COBRA system that allows you to control who has access, whether it’s just a single person in a single location or several people in variable locations. With customizable portals and self-service logins, this level of flexibility is possible.
How Much of the Benefits Administration Is Done Remotely?
In the not-so-distant past, it was assumed that workers went to the office to handle benefit administration duties. Although remote work existed, it was the exception, not the rule. Now that’s changed. Remote and hybrid work have become commonplace.
A good COBRA system needs to support this, and remote access to the COBRA administration system is only part of the issue. You also need a system that enables you to process incoming mail and check and print and mail COBRA notices remotely.
Which State Laws Apply?
COBRA administrators don’t just have to comply with federal COBRA requirements. They also have to comply with state laws. Although there are a few states that don’t have their own health coverage continuation laws, the majority of states have something on the books. Many of these laws apply to employers that have fewer than 20 employees and are exempt from federal requirements. The state laws can also impact the length of coverage, eligibility and other key issues.
These state laws vary, and because many companies operate and have employees in multiple states, companies may have to deal with a number of different laws. This means setting up different rules for different employees, and that requires flexibility.
What Changes Are Happening in COBRA Administration?
COBRA system flexibility can help you achieve an administration routine that works for you, but that’s not the only reason flexibility is important. Changes in COBRA laws and legal trends can also impact your administration needs.
For example, SHRM says at least 18 states and the District of Columbia made changes to their state mini-COBRA laws after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in 2009. Now, that was a long time ago, and you’ve no doubt adjusted to the new rules – but what about the next federal law that kicks off a domino effect of changes?
More recently, COBRA rules changed as a result of COVID-19-related deadline extensions. According to SHRM, employees were given extra time to elect coverage and pay COBRA premiums, and this relief has ended as of July 2023. Changes like this are a massive deal for benefit administrators who suddenly need to use a new set of rules – and then go back to the old way of doing things. A flexible COBRA system can prevent this from becoming a nightmare.
Employers and TPAs may also need to adjust their COBRA administration in response to litigation trends. For example, HR Dive says Amazon recently settled a lawsuit that accused the online retailer of sending threatening COBRA notices that discouraged election. This would be a good time for other employers to doublecheck the language in their own notices.
What Does the Employer Want?
TPAs typically serve multiple clients, but they may not be able to deliver the same exact services in every case. Employers usually want their COBRA notices to be customized with their own branding. They may also want customized reports that meet the needs of their internal processes. To keep all of their clients happy, TPAs need to keep all of these preferences straight.
A flexible COBRA system can make that easy.
The Flexibility You Need
A good COBRA system is one that offers flexibility without sacrificing ease-of-use, security or compliance. With API integration, lockbox services, print fulfillment and report customization, Travisoft’s COBRA administration has everything you need to do COBRA your way. Learn more.
Whatever your business model, Travisoft is here to support you with a flexible, agile SaaS offering that enables TPAs to have it their way. Below are some helpful resources you might find intriguing.
To Give Clients DIY Capabilities, TPAs Use:
- Easy Import Solutions
- Print Fulfillment Capabilities
- Managing Employee Benefits Remotely
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