Navigating Benefits

Using Employee Census Data to Choose the Best Health Insurance Offerings

  • 92% of workers say benefits greatly affect their job satisfaction
  • Collecting employee census data helps insurance brokers provide accurate rate quotes
  • The census should gather several key pieces of employee information, from the number of dependents to start dates, to help secure the right health insurance plan
Posted by October 28, 2019

Calibrating employee benefits offerings is tricky. On one hand, offering everything under the sun can attract new talent; on the other, doing so can cost a pretty penny—especially if employees don’t use these offerings. So how can you make sure your benefits package is just right?

An employee census can guide any business that’s considering adjustments to its group health insurance policy. By gathering core information on your workforce, your company will be better positioned to obtain the right benefits at the best premium rates.

Why Conduct an Employee Census?

This report can help companies identify the right employee benefits plan. And since 92% of workers say benefits greatly affect their job satisfaction, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, small business owners should choose their offerings carefully.

So if you’re looking to boost recruitment efforts and promote retention, setting your sights on employee benefits is a good place to start. But though the information from a census can be highly useful, you’ll want to ensure you’re collecting the right data and handling it sensitively.

Which Data Should You Collect and Why?

The main purpose of a census is to help insurance brokers provide an accurate rate quote. Whether you’re updating your current group benefits or are shopping around for a new plan, insurers will need data on your workforce to offer the most competitive premium rates.

With the permission of employees, your report should include the following data:

  • Employee names: Each eligible employee who will be covered under the group benefits plan needs to be identified; group size can affect premiums.
  • Dates of birth: An employee’s age affects the risks associated with coverage, which also affects plan rates.
  • Addresses with ZIP codes: Each county and state may have different coverage and plans available, as well as different levels of access to health care services.
  • Start dates: Each employee’s date of hire is important information if there’s a brief waiting period to be eligible for benefits.
  • Employee status (salaried or hourly): Some organizations only provide insurance to their salaried or hourly workforce, so this is important to note when requesting a quote from an insurer.
  • Hours worked (full-time, part-time): Organizations need to advise eligibility for insurance under their current benefits plan. Hours worked can be a determining factor.
  • Type of dependents: The number and type of dependents can influence the kind of plans that employees are eligible for.

Some insurance brokers will supply a standard census questionnaire for an employer to complete. This determines what products are available to the employees and the premium rates.

If you’re using a human resources information system or a payroll application, you can easily compile this information in a report. Otherwise, you may need to gather this information through a yearly census.

Legal Restrictions on the Use of Census Data

When gathering any workforce data, sharing sensitive employee information with insurers, or making decisions about group benefit plans, company leaders should be aware of these relevant laws:

  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act: ERISA requires employers to provide covered employees with a summary plan description, which comprehensively details the group benefits plan. If a change is made to the plans, the employer also must furnish a summary of material modifications, which explains the changes and impact it may have on the plan.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act: HIPAA’s main goal is protecting employee data and enabling employees to obtain coverage or make changes to their coverage if they’ve lost it or have had a qualifying life event. This law also covers employee data and how it’s used: Employers must mask identifying information in all reports and transmittals with insurers.

Benefits of Conducting a Census

It’s far better to have complete information about all employees when requesting a quote than relying on guesswork. Insurance plan premiums can vary widely based on a number of factors, like group size and participation rates, the choice of plans, and dependent coverage. Be sure to compare several insurers when negotiating plans.

But no matter the makeup of your workforce, conducting an annual employee census can ensure that your organization secures the best rates for your group plan.

Looking resources to help you decide on the best insurance plan for your organization? Explore the Dental Plan Navigator hosted on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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