Using benefits data, return to basics to weather coronavirus pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting plan sponsors in different ways, they can return to the basics and use data to manage their benefits spend, according to a webinar hosted by the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute on Tuesday.

“It’s helpful for companies to pivot and take the conversation back to the basics, which is discussing the purpose of their benefits plan,” said Jaime Laprise, an associate at Montridge Advisory Group Ltd., during the webinar.

If the primary purpose is attraction and retention, then benchmarking tools provide a great way for plan sponsors to measure their benefits plans against others, he said, pointing to usage reporting as another option.

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Once plan sponsors have a clear goal in mind, they may be more open to the idea of performance measures and reviewing how their plans are being used and where their benefits dollars are going on a year-to-year basis, said Laprise, noting many plan sponsors aren’t even aware this data is available.

Additionally, plan sponsors can access a line report breakdown of all the medications submitted through their drug plans, which will show them the frequency of claims and the amount claimed over the last year, demonstrating which disease states exist in their organization, he added.

Once plan sponsors have all of this data, Laprise suggested they narrow down the metrics they’ll use to evaluate the overall success of their current strategy. However, he also noted it’s important they have realistic expectations of how frequently they’ll review their success in meeting these goals.

“You can’t flip a switch and solve a problem,. In many cases, it’s a long-term investment. . . . I often say, ‘Start small. Focus in on one objective at a time and try and make a difference that way.’”

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