Slideshow 10 factors to consider in dependent eligibility audits

Published
  • August 10 2015, 7:56pm EDT
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Communication is the leading factor in the failure or success of dependent eligibility audits, ranking higher than pricing, service, or any other of the “bells and whistles” that are promised by vendors, research notes. Paul Passantino, senior national account manager at Dependent Specialists Inc., provides 10 questions benefit managers should consider when crafting a communications strategy for dependent eligibility verification audits.

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Who is your audience?

If you have a heavy millennial workforce, they may respond better to texts and emails and rarely expect a letter in the mail. Bear in mind the makeup of your employee population. But there's no one-size-fits-all method -- many baby boomers with established home address are so inundated with junk mail, your delivered communications may get lost in the trash.

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Do you have visible executive support?

When news breaks of an oncoming audit, it should come from company leadership, not an HR manager or even worse, a third-party vendor. Passantino notes the success rate of an employee reading your message will increase when it comes from a company email or stationery.

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Will the letter/email be opened?

If using email, be sure to have a strong subject line. And for snail mail, make sure the employer’s name is clearly labeled and the envelope contains a benefits message, for example: "ABC Company Benefits Information Enclosed."

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What’s the correct tone?

Maintain a positive tone throughout the process. Usually, a majority of dependents will most likely be eligibile anyway, so "don't make it a witch hunt," Passantino notes. Also, he adds, avoid words like 'penalty&' or 'must' or even 'audit,' especially in initial communication. The tone should evolve through the audit, however, becoming more urgent as the documentation submission deadline nears.

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Are the required actions clear?

Be concise and use plain language that will inform the employee what is required. Using colored ink, or bolding/italicizing the most critical points might also help.

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Where will your focus be?

Communications should be centered on the employee’s experience more than anything else. Submission options, tools and resources should be highlighted instead of deadlines or consequences.

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Are the consequences clear?

Be clear that employees know the ramifications for failure to comply, including the date any consequences will be executed, including removing dependents from coverage.

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What assistance will you offer?

Sometimes a problem can boil down to a simple misinterpretation of what you’re asking for. “It’s a fact – some employees will need help understanding the requirements, finding documents, or will need extra time,” Passantino says.

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What is the win for employees?

Be sure to include why the process is important for employees and the company. For example, let employees know that in doing this, it will help curb the cost of health insurance and to help provide better benefits to everyone.

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Is your rule golden?

When all else fails, remember the Golden Rule. Stand in the employee’s shoes and see the dependent eligibility verification project through their eyes. Absorb the communications (posters, letters, emails, payroll stuffers) as they would. Then, and only then, make final decisions on communications.

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