For years, electronic billing capabilities have been reserved for only the largest employers. According to a recent Eastbridge survey of 25 carriers, however, employers of all sizes now expect carriers to offer advanced billing options to meet their enrollment and administrative needs—and the online needs of their employees.
In response to the demand, many of the carrier participants offer up to six different billing options as well as multiple payment and frequency choices, and all but a few provide some form of electronic billing either through email or the Internet. Of these, most allow the employer to make changes online versus providing a view-only option. The majority of carriers now also offer a consolidated or true single billing for all their voluntary products and expect to meet more employee requests for an online/portal bill payment and reconciliation option, online claims submission, and electronic management for evidence of insurability, policy forms, ID cards, etc.
As employer and broker demands in the billing arena increase, so too have the complexities for building the infrastructure to support the technology. “Although providing clients their bill in either a web or electronic format continues to be the norm, there seems to be a new issue for carriers to navigate as well,” explains Gil Lowerre, president of Eastbridge. “Many employers now expect providers to offer some level of billing integration with their benefit administration system beyond simply provisioning a bill electronically. It really speaks to an increase in data exchange capabilities that a carrier may need to build,” adds Lowerre. For that reason, an increasing number of carrier participants are using third-party billing providers rather than continuing to build out their own billing technology in house; this helps the carrier keep up with the demands and the permeation of technology improvements.
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Eastbridge Consulting Group, Inc. is a marketing advisory firm serving insurance and financial services organizations in the United States and Canada.