By letting employees enroll for and get information about their benefits on the internet, school districts in Texas have increased the access, privacy, and convenience of their benefits programs while cutting out a tremendous amount of paperwork.
“It’s become impractical to go to every one of our facilities to enroll people in our benefits,” said Sam Russell, director of business operations at Lewisville Independent School District in Texas.
His district has 51 schools, not to mention seven or eight administrative facilities. The process of informing, registering, and updating the employee benefits of every staff member became such an enormous task that his district sought the services of GetBenefits.com.
The company, which provides an internet service that allows school employees to register for, access, and update their employee benefits online, started in July and now works with 15 school districts.
“When an enrollment process is going on, there’s a tremendous amount of paperwork,” said John Pesce, chief marketing officer for GetBenefits.com. “This keeps everything paperless for the school district and it makes things a whole lot easier.”
Usually, school employees have to fill out form after form with the same information. With GetBenefits.com, employees only have to enter their address, phone number, and social security number once, since the information is stored in a secure database and applied to each form as needed.
The site lets employees file their claim forms online and see the real-time status of the forms. If an employee has a complaint with a vendor, the employee can eMail the vendor through the site. GetBenefits.com will monitor the eMail to make sure the employee gets a response.
“No matter who the insurance company is, GetBenefits will do the enrollment,” Pesce said. “We work it out with each and every insurance company.”
Steve Austin, human resource manager for the Clear Creek Independent School District, said GetBenefits.com arranged for all the district’s insurance companies to go along with the service. All he had to do was mail each company a letter explaining that the district wanted to use it.
“The good thing about GetBenefits was that it assigned an individual to take care of this,” he said. “We’re talking about 11 or 12 different vendors that need to come together to make this thing work.”
Austin said each insurance company agreed to the service. Russell said only five of his district’s six vendors have agreed, but he hopes that will change.
With GetBenefits.com, if an employee decides to change insurance companies or personal information, it’s updated instantly in the employee database.
This feature greatly decreases the time it takes some companies to process paperwork. For example, Austin said, one employee in his district paid insurance fees for seven months but wasn’t really covered because the forms hadn’t been processed.
Since the site uses “smart forms,” it won’t process the application if an employee has skipped any section or entered information incorrectly.
“They can’t go from one screen to the next without completing all the parts of the forms,” Austin said of his district’s employees.
This service saves districts money, too, since they don’t have to print material for every employee because it’s available on the GetBenefits.com web site. Also, informationsuch as a list of doctorsis always current and easy to update.
Before GetBenefits.com, Russell said, meetings with employees about their benefits were inflexible. He used to visit schools at specific times on specific days.
“We are still going to go our campuses on a limited basis, but [our employees] don’t have to do it that way since all the information is available on the internet,” Russell said. “GetBenefits also has a toll-free number that our employees can call. It’s in both English and Spanish. Our employees can enroll by phone using this customer number if they wish.”
GetBenefits.com charges districts an annual licensing fee based on their number of employees. “It’s fairly inexpensive, too,” Austin said.
All in all, this internet service streamlines the process of enrolling and managing employee benefits. “It frees me up to do my normal job,” Russell said. “It allows me to focus on specific problems employees are having.”
Lewisville Independent School District
Clear Creek Independent School District