There is a reason most companies with a sizable workforce have dedicated payroll staff to work alongside HR and Benefits personnel. It is labor intensive, time consuming, and can be a nightmare when something goes wrong. Thanks to advances in modern technology, there are many digital resources designed to help make the various payroll tasks easier. You have automated time keeping systems, tax calculators, and various other plug-and-play systems that help save you time and money. The only problem is that those systems don’t always talk to each other, meaning you spend a decent amount of time using a combination of spreadsheets to audit one system against another. What if your benefits Third-Party Administrator (TPA) could help with at least a few of those payroll headaches? Here are 3 common headaches experienced by payroll and how your TPA could help:
MULTIPLE BENEFITS CARRIER TRANSACTIONS
When you work in payroll you have a lot of reports from a lot of different sources. Normally you would receive a report from each carrier: health insurance, dental, vision, life insurance, accident, etc. Each one of those reports lists each employee and their voluntary deductions for their employee benefits. You then have to go through each bill or report and cross check your payroll software for each carrier to ensure the proper amounts are deducted. If something is wrong, you have to contact each insurance carrier separately to address the issue(s). Even if everything is correct, then you are still left with the task of having to pay each vendor separately.
If you have a TPA that provides you with a centralized benefits platform capable of payroll imports and exports, then it gets a little easier. An appropriate system would allow your employees to select their benefits, automatically calculate their deductions per pay cycle, and let you manage any additional details all in one place. In this case you get one bill and have only one report from your benefit administration system to look at to ensure your payroll deductions are accurate. One bill means you only need to pay one vendor, who then disperses your payment to the appropriate carriers. Some TPAs, like FBS, will even provide you with a dedicated billing coordinator to help make sure you understand your bill, ensure its accuracy, and help address any issues.
LOTS OF REPORT DISCREPANCIES
Even if you are using a TPA that provides a system similar to THEbenefitsHUB that provides all your benefit needs, you still have a payroll system that actually makes the deductions and pays your employees. What if an employee is terminated in your payroll system and you forget to go into the TPA’s system and terminate their benefits? The TPA doesn’t know that the employee is no longer there, so they continue to bill you for the benefit premiums each pay period. This can result in a huge number of discrepancies that build up over time until you go in and terminate the employee in the TPA’s system.
The answer may be a report generated by your TPA. If you provide a backup copy of your payroll file to your TPA through a HIPPA-compliant secure system, they can compare your file to current elections and simply send you a list of discrepancies that need attention. A proper system can do this in mere minutes and lets you make the corrections needed quickly, saving you time and money. Without this tool, you are forced to manually compare spreadsheets, which can mean your list of discrepancies is larger and takes even more time.
MANUAL PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS/ADJUSTMEMNTS
When you combine the above two issues, you usually end up with a lot of errors needing manual adjustments to your employee benefit bills and reports. So how do these errors happen? According to Stacia Wirth, Director of Billing at FBS, “The key errors that seem to happen a lot are effective dates and termination dates…If it’s an [addition], you make it [effective] first of the following month. If it’s a termination, you make it [terminate] the last day of the month.” If you have multiple bills with errors, you have to make manual adjustments for each carrier after each pay period for each employee with a discrepancy. As time goes on without correction, each error gets worse, compounding on the problem and putting further stress on your payroll and HR staff.
How do you fix it? The answer is simple! Take the time each month to make the needed corrections using the discrepancy report your TPA has provided, so these issues do not keep getting worse. This will gradually make your bill more accurate and reduce the number of discrepancies in the next month.
CLEAN REPORTS MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY
Now that you have a clean report, you can submit one clean bill to your accounts payable team for multiple services. They get to pay the TPA instead of deciphering the network of carriers and policy reference numbers in your previous system. “The main thing is we take the district’s money, and we’ll reconcile it and pay the carriers. So, we will take a majority of the district’s job, take that off their plate and do it on their behalf,” says Stacia Wirth, FBS Billing Director. This makes your financial audits easier, which should make senior management happy as well.
CURE YOUR PAYROLL HEADACHES
If your TPA is not helping you cure these headaches, then you should talk to one of our benefit consultants to discuss how we can help. FBS Billing Coordinators are industry experts and are able with any payroll and benefit billing questions. FBS uses a proprietary software to consolidate your benefit carrier bills, reconcile your payroll which makes managing your payroll deductions and discrepancies easier. Our program generates an easy to read discrepancy report for you every month allowing you to make corrections faster.
Want to hear more details about how our Billing Department can help your payroll headaches? Check out our video podcast “TPA Billing & Reconciliation” below for more from our experts.