Overview: Benefits administration involves establishing, maintaining and managing the full spectrum of employee benefit programs for an organization. More than just ensuring compliance, benefits administration is also concerned with making sure employees understand how their benefits work and what requirements must be satisfied in order to be eligible to participate.
From an operational standpoint, some major functions of benefits administration include: (i) ensuring the legal compliance and overall effectiveness of an organization's benefits program including health, welfare and retirement plans; (ii) negotiating with vendors and recommending benefit plans that align with organizational goals; (iii) communicating benefit plan options to both new and existing employees; (iv) processing additions and terminations to benefit plans in a timely manner; (v) verifying bills and making accurate and timely payments to insurance providers; (vi) making sure payroll deductions are in place for employee contributions to benefit plans; and (vii) ensuring employer contributions are done in a timely manner.
Benefits administration involves balancing the needs of both the employee and the employer. It is important to have programs in place that support the employee that are in line with what an employer can afford.
Trends: The newer requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as "health care reform", in addition to the repeal of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act will challenge HR professionals in both the short and long-term as they monitor developments and adjust benefit strategies accordingly.
Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
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HR guidance on effective benefit plan administration.