Continuing our strategic efforts to stay out in front of the industry-leading HR technology developments, two Benefit Technology Resource (BTR) team members attended the recent PlanSource Eclipse, where tech gurus, brokers, industry experts, insurance and HR and benefits professionals came together to focus on the future of the employee benefits industry and the changes and technologies driving the industry forward. BTR offers PlanSource as one of four pre-vetted recommended solutions for the larger mid-market sector (200+ employees). We were pleased to be part of a TED Talk-style general session during which Kate Taylor, Vice President of BTR, spoke on how changing technology saved one BTR client $1.2 million.
Our team also attended the Co-Source Advisory Board (user’s group) meeting and the Elite Advisory Board (strategic business directives) meeting —returning with information beneficial to users of PlanSource’s platform along with insights into the larger HR technology market. We are happy to share this information with you in the belief it can help you in your role as a benefits advisor to your employer clients.
PlanSource-Jellvision Partnership Announced
During the Co-Source Advisory Board meeting, PlanSource reported on product updates, including API integrations, client solutions strategies and product investments (reporting a $7M increase in product investments for 2018). The big announcement, however, was a partnership with Jellyvision to integrate ALEX, Jellyvision’s interactive benefits counselor, into the PlanSource benefits administration system. ALEX uses behavioral science, non-jargon language and humor to engage employees and offer personalized, confidential guidance on topics such as choosing a health care insurance plan, saving for retirement or navigating a life event. The plan is for a limited beta rollout in Q4 2018, making ALEX available to all PlanSource users in Q1 2019. There will be an initial size limit for the first phase.
Eldercare in the Workforce
Employers are paying more attention to employees who care for aging parents and for good reason. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that more than one in six Americans assist with the care of an elderly family member. Further, 52% of women and 34% of men have experienced workday interruptions due to caregiving, according to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network. This situation is poised to get worse. AARP projects that, by 2030, only four potential family caregivers will be available for every person 80 or older, down from a high of seven in 2010. Stacy Solorio, senior director of HR operations for Atara Biotherapeutics, told PlanSource attendees that eldercare is the fastest growing work-family challenge to emerge in the past decade, citing data that 43% of employers offer some form of eldercare support —in the form of policies, resources, training and support groups.
Privacy Legislation Driving Technology Enhancements
Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) impacts U.S. companies with employees based in Europe or which offer goods or services to customers or businesses in the EU. Closer to home, California has passed its own Consumer Privacy Act (goes into effect on January 1, 2020), which overlaps a fair amount with GDPR. Other states will likely follow California’s lead, creating an increasingly complex regulatory environment for multi-state employers. Ryan Baldwin, chief technology officer for PlanSource, reported that PlanSource expects to be able to self-certify full GDPR compliance by late 2018 or early 2919 and is aggressively pursuing full compliance with the California Act by the 2020 deadline.
Using “People First Technology”
The dehumanization of the workforce was a topic throughout the conference and Ultimate Software reported 70% of companies have adopted or are piloting artificial intelligence (AI) and 72% of business executives believe AI will be THE competitive advantage of the future said Armen Berjikly, senior director of strategy for Ultimate Software, citing research form PWC andDeloitte’s 2017 HCM Trends.AI is a hot topic in HR technology circles, with questions being raised about its use. In response, Ultimate developed an AI code of conduct that states their belief that AI must:
- Respect our privacy
- Work with us as we are
- Ensure all voice are heard
- Help each person realize their potential
- Continually improve organizations
These tenets are reflected in Ultimate’s Xander ― analytical AI smart software that is capable, among other things, of sophisticated sentiment analysis by soliciting feedback from employees and deciphering their true emotions. Berjikly’s big message was that the key to effective AI is to use it to help people purposefully do what they can’t do due to restrictions such as volume, speed, stamina and unconscious bias. AI should not be designed to replace people.
ACA is Still Alive and Changing
Despite the lack of substantive action to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are ongoing changes that impact benefit offerings and IRS reporting. Compliance lawyer for the Alera Group, Danielle Capilla, provided a detailed ACA update. Key topics included: Association Health Plans, opt-outs and cash waivers, IRS Letter 226J and proposed rule changes and bills working their way through the legislative process. Employers should consult legal counsel on these topics as there are significant nuances to all. Following are a few of the biggest possible changes:
- Association Health Plans (AHP): New regulations intended to provide an additional mechanism for plans, added to older MEWA regulations (state laws governing multiple employer welfare arrangements).
- Proposed expanded IRS reporting: Changes in rules regarding manual filing which would require more small employers to file electronically.
- Health Saving Accounts (HSAs): Relaxation of rules, e.g., funds allowed for OTC items and certain fitness expenses, resolution of spousal flexible spending account (FSA) exclusion and allowance of conversion of FSA and HRAs (health reimbursement accounts) into HSAs.
Employers look to their benefit adviser to help make sense of the vast number of technology solutions in the market. As independent HR technology consultants, the Benefit Technology Resources team can work with you and your clients to determine the best system for their specific needs. Our team members regularly attend industry conferences. For our most timely insights and information sharing, follow us on twitter: @bentechre.To learn more, contact us at 1-877-299-8155 or visit bentechre.com.