Lake County Moves From Paper to Digital for Its Benefits Administration and ACA Reporting

June 5, 2017

 

Client: Lake County

Industry: Government

Company size: 500-1000

Lake County, in California’s lush wine country has a workforce of more than 820 employees who are responsible for everything from road maintenance to multi-modal transportation planning to running the county court system. What Lake County didn’t have until fairly recently was a modern, online system for enrolling those employees in their benefits or administering benefits during the year.

Located north of the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake County covers 1,329 square miles and has more than 65,000 residents. The county is also responsible for providing and administering benefits for about 20 individuals who receive benefits through COBRA and more than 650 retirees.

Choosing the right partner

While Lake County continued to manually enroll employees for their benefits and used a paper-based system to manage benefits administration, the demands on HR and the complexities of benefits grew increasingly difficult.

By 2011, the county:

  • Managed plan offerings for as many as nine unions Provided plans for employees who worked in several satellite locations and had access to different healthcare systems
  • Had an array of role structures
  • Allowed for and managed enrollment in passive benefits (optional for enrollment at any time without coverage ramifications) and mandatory benefits (e.g., adding a newborn must be done within the first month after the child’s birth or be added during the next annual enrollment period)
  • Managed benefits programs for active employees, COBRA-eligible individuals, and retirees

The county’s geography added another layer of difficulty to its paper-based benefits and HR management system: Clear Lake, the largest natural lake wholly within California, sits smack dab in the middle of the county.

“It can take 90 minutes to circumvent Clear Lake — a huge burden and time restraint for HR during annual enrollment when you’re doing everything on paper,” says Jesse Puett, the county’s HR analyst.

The solution

In 2011, Lake County changed the insurance agency with which it negotiated and purchased employee benefits. The primary reason for the change was to stabilize the rates the county paid for employee health insurance. The county wanted a system that would ensure smooth benefits setup and administration, and that would position it to more easily and safely accommodate changes that might result from new state or federal laws or requirements, including ACA reporting and compliance.

Lake County decided CareerBuilder HCM was the right choice and, in the fall of 2011, Lake County began planning its new benefits administration system. Specific goals were a smooth implementation and accurate records setup and mapping. The BenAdmin module was online for the 2012 enrollment season. Lake County added the ACA Compliance module in 2014.

“It’s a very easy system to work with,” Puett says. “It’s customizable, which is fantastic for us with our employee population, and the customer service is fantastic.”

Puett says another benefit of this collaboration was that the people representing the company “understand the nuts and bolts of the system … they know how it works and what we need it to do.”

“What they do,” Puett says, “they do very, very well.”

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