Benefit Managers spend countless hour perfecting annual enrollment messages and choreographing the communication calendar. Any delay in timing compromises an employee’s ability to act and make the right benefit elections for the year ahead. Benefit Managers rely on an efficient postal service for the delivery not only of employee communications, but also prescriptions, ID cards, and payments.
Annual Enrollment: Although employers have shifted to digital benefit communications in recent years, traditional print by mail pieces continue to be utilized for targeted audiences (e.g., retirees, COBRA eligible, employees on leaves of absence, and spouses) that lack access to corporate email addresses. Mail reliability concerns coupled with COVID-19 provides an opening for benefit managers to evaluate often significant communication budgets and consider alternative and greener channels to deliver messages to members. Additionally, Benefit Managers may want to revisit post-enrollment grace periods to provide employees additional leeway to make benefit changes and elections for 2021.
ID Cards: Once annual enrollment elections are made, very few benefit managers sleep or open the New Year’s Eve champagne until the carrier or TPA confirms successful delivery of new ID cards. Taking proactive steps to encourage benefit administrators to share employee benefit elections with the carriers earlier in the timeline and pushing digital forms of ID cards to members before the start of the year mitigates the risk of delayed mail.
Mail Order Prescriptions: PBM mail order pharmacies dispense a significant number of prescriptions to members fueled by prevalent benefit programs design provisions (e.g., mandatory mail, reduced employee mail cost sharing). With the reliance on mail delivery, Benefit Managers should engage their PBM to understand and monitor how USPS reliability questions are impacting the timely delivery of prescriptions to members. Benefit Managers can assess whether any steps are necessary to ease any pressures on medication access (e.g., suspending mandatory mail order rules, allowing 90-day supplies of maintenance medications through retail channels) while balancing with financial and PBM contractual requirements.
Payment and Invoices: Not all benefit financial transactions are electronic. Benefit departments regularly receive payments from 3rd party suppliers related to pharmacy rebates, performance guarantees, and implementation credits by regular mail. With internal company mailrooms often inefficient and greater remote working, the risk of undelivered or misplaced mail increases the potential impact to company cash flow. Revisiting financial setup with suppliers improves operational efficiencies and diminishes the risk.
Although politics and pandemics are often not the source for the reevaluation of traditional approaches to employee benefit delivery, Benefit Managers can take steps now to collect data, plan contingencies, and improve existing processes to avoid carrying over the hazards of 2020 into 2021.
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