Archive for the ‘BAO’ category

Benefits Outsourcing is Blooming

May 9, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Benefits administration is producing a bountiful crop of new and expanding services. Recent contract award announcements included ADP, Aon Hewitt, Ceridian, Equiniti, Fidelity, Mass Mutual and Merrill Lynch. A wide range of industry segments were represented: banking; food; education; non-profits; hi-tech; pharmaceuticals; and travel. This week, I have taken a look at some of the newer benefit outsourcing “crops” that are starting to grow nicely.

Managed Retirement Accounts

Fidelity’s relatively new managed retirement account offering – Fidelity Portfolio Advisory Service at Work – was designed to address the low rate of adequate preparation for retirement by many employees by combining Fidelity Investments plan sponsor customized portfolio active management services with auto enrollment and available advisory services to help bridge the gap in achieving retirement goals from a defined contribution plan. The service grew in both participants and assets by 50% in 2012. Already in 2013, another 135 new clients have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,800 plan sponsors.

  • Fidelity awarded a contract for Portfolio Advisory Service at Work by ADM.

Health and Wellness

ADP’s Vitality wellness solution supports employers with between 50 and 1,000 employees manage rising healthcare costs and also reduce employee absenteeism. Vitality’s incentive-based program includes an interactive wellness portal, health risk assessments, biometric screenings and personalized wellness plans with recommended goals and activities. It integrates with social networking sites, mobile applications and fitness technologies; and when employees achieve planned goals, they earn points towards lowering their health plan contributions. The service is also integrated with ADP’s payroll services.

  • ADP awarded a contract by Jackson Companies for ADP Vitality services.

Benefits Bouquet Bundles

HRO buyers want multiple related services from one vendor under one contract; and health and wellness lends itself to packaging separate services into bundles. Ceridian’s LifeWorks.com combines EAP, work-life, and wellness services into one program with its own portal and mobile access. Also available is Health Coaching – a program for high-risk employees that provides access to comprehensive health assessments and personalized guidance programs – and Client Value Dashboard – included for employers to monitor reports usage data and ROI information.

  • Ball State University chooses Ceridian’s LifeWorks.com

Private Employer Exchanges

Mercer’s Marketplace allows employers to improve management of their benefits spending and administrative responsibilities for active employees. Employers determine how much to contribute toward the cost of their benefits program and can select from a range of insured and self-funded products and providers. The platform includes full benefits outsourcing and provides employees with call center and online decision support.

  • Mercer recently announced names of 10 of its 20 national, regional and state carriers that have joined Mercer Marketplace for providing core medical and voluntary benefits.

A good garden has a variety of plants. Some base crops are evergreen like benefits enrollment and management services, while others are changed out to meet growing market demand. Benefits HRO: how does your garden grow? Very well thank you.

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PPACA: Pandemonium Today, Panic Later, Prosperity for HRO

June 29, 2012

By Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

It was pandemonium after the United States Supreme Court announced its ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The outstanding decision left so many in a holding pattern pending the constitutionality of the act.

Now that the decision is more firmly settled for the time being (primarily pending the November presidential election), U.S. states and organizations will have to take more definitive steps in securing exchanges and evaluating whether to offer health insurance plans or pay the tax penalty.

In fact, the state of Florida, via Florida Health Choices, set the wheels in motion earlier this week ahead of the ruling when it awarded a $68m contract to Xerox to administer a health insurance exchange for nine years. Services include:

  • A web portal and online plan selection tool
  • Eligibility determination and enrollment management services
  • Customer contact center services.

Other states that have delayed taking action are still expected to meet the law’s timelines. The same is true for employers that have yet to make employee healthcare decisions that take the PPACA requirements into consideration. Watch for a spate of webinars by benefits service providers to remind all of us of the changes still to come in 2014 through 2018.

Regardless of today’s decision, HRO and particularly benefits administration service providers have been sitting in a sweet spot.  Vendor interviews for NelsonHall’s recently published “Targeting Benefits Administration” market analysis revealed that business has been going on as usual with many employers turning to benefits administration vendors to implement services that are focused on controlling the cost of rising health care such as:

  • Dependent eligibility audits to remove ineligible dependents from plans
  • Wellness programs
  • Improving absence management
  • Switching to high-deductible health plans with associated health savings accounts.

The published report explores the current state of benefits administration as well as the future market and its growth over the next five years by geography and service line including:

  • H&W administration
  • Reimbursement administration
  • Leave of absence administration
  • COBRA administration
  • Flexible benefits administration
  • DC administration
  • DB administration.

The analysis also looks beyond legislative implications in the U.S. and new offerings that have emerged such as health insurance exchanges to explore the automatic enrollment requirement in the U.K.

The greater unresolved issue at hand, however, is how to control the rising cost of health care that is already arguably unsustainable as evidenced by the more than 30m Americans currently without insurance.

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M&A Activity in Benefits Administration: Round 2

March 12, 2012

Following the benefits administration merger and acquisition (M&A) frenzy of 2010 that resulted in some major consolidations including Aon Hewitt, Towers Watson, Xerox/ACS and ExcellerateHRO, to name a few, are we poised to see round 2?

The second wave actually began in early 2011 and tends to consist of the more established providers, in their own right, acquiring Tier 2 health and welfare (H&W) administration companies in the U.S.  Examples include:

  • Towers Watson acquiring Aliquant in January 2011
  • Sedgwick, a leader in the leave of absence administration market with ~20% market share, acquiring the productivity solutions unit of Nationwide Better Health in May 2011
  • Morneau Shepell, the leading total benefits outsourcing (TBO) provider in Canada, acquiring SBC Systems Company in January 2012.

As of last week, we can now add ADP to this list since it signed a definitive agreement to acquire SHPS Human Resource Solutions—a subsidiary of SHPS, Inc. ADP has actually been making key acquisitions to strengthen components within its benefits administration offering for the last 18 months. It started with Workscape, which added compensation management services, and was followed by Asparity Decision Solutions for decision support tools and analytic capabilities.

Now, the SHPS acquisition strengthens ADP’s leave administration and reimbursement account administration offerings. The HSA and HRA components will be especially important considering the rising cost of health-care and the transition toward high-deductible health plans paired with these health savings accounts.

The H&W acquisition trend is also expanding beyond the U.S. It started in September 2010, when Capita – a U.K.-based HRO vendor providing total retirement outsourcing (TRO) exclusively in the U.K. – acquired FirstAssist Services Holdings for £12.5m. Then it continued when Mercer acquired REPCA – a brokering and advising firm for health and benefits (H&B) plans – to strengthen its H&B administration offering and advisory services in France.

The remaining question on my mind is whether U.S.-based TRO providers such as ING, Great-West, T. Rowe Price, etc. plan to jump on the H&W acquisition bandwagon to provide a one-stop shop for benefits administration like Fidelity Investments.

I’m eager to see who will make the next M&A move in benefits administration.  In the meantime, it’s always fun to hear about cross-selling opportunities that resulted in contract scope expansions.  Stay tuned.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

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The Evolution of TBO Deals: Part I

March 5, 2012

I am deep into research for the next NelsonHall Targeting Benefits Administration market analysis, and I noticed that like multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO), total benefits outsourcing (TBO) often stems from a desire to consolidate the number of service providers. The benefits of MPHRO are realized mostly by client employers with self-service convenience provided for the employees. The benefits of TBO extend beyond the client employer to its employees and retirees who get an enhanced participant experience from the services being integrated, which not only offers convenience and ease of use but may also increase the value of the offered benefits to the individual participants. 

While the drivers and benefits of TBO are often similar with clients, how TBO deals have come into existence have greatly varied.  The four different methods we’ll further discuss include:

  • The traditional big bang approach
  • The big bang approach version 2.0 (i.e., converting existing consulting clients)
  • The mass consolidation approach
  • The step-up approach.

The traditional big bang approach: This is the oldest method in existence and is quite recognizable in the market, especially with large multi-nationals. It doesn’t happen often, but it definitely creates a big bang when a large employer outsources defined benefit, defined contribution, and health and welfare program administration for the first time—with all going to one service provider!

The big bang approach version 2.0: The big bang approach version 2.0 differs from the traditional approach in that the client and service provider already have a pre-existing relationship, typically on the consulting side.  Also, the client may or may not already be outsourcing some benefits administration services to perhaps test the waters, but the majority of services remain in-house.

The mass consolidation approach: In this approach, the client has already outsourced all benefits administration services to a variety of service providers and is now seeking one vendor to manage all services. Consolidation is sometimes done by a larger vendor management strategy but is often triggered by mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Client M&A activity is a real two-edged sword for all suppliers including TBO providers. Even if separate benefit vendors are initially kept in place, the danger zone remains open for years—especially during times of contract renewal.

The step-up approach: The step-up approach is the newest method and is exactly as the name implies.  It is where clients begin using a particular service provider for one benefits administration service and then, based on performance and satisfaction, add other services accordingly.

Later this week, we’ll take a look at examples of each type of TBO deal.

 Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

 Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Health Savings Accounts on the Rise

November 29, 2011

The utilization of health savings accounts (HSAs) is rising, creating a win-win for employees, employers, and HRO benefits providers. Let’s take a look at the results of two recent studies to find out why.

Buck Consultants conducted a survey (http://bit.ly/uu10es), commissioned by its parent, ACS, A Xerox Company, which revealed that HSAs are not only saving employers and consumers money, but also helping employees (and retirees) make better decisions about their healthcare. Consumers of HSAs are putting aside more money for potential medical costs than they did before (69% of those enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans [HDHPs] contributed an average of $1,000 to their HSA accounts  for individual coverage, and $1,500 for family coverage). They are also engaging in healthier lifestyle choices and doing more research for preventative care. Employers report that the cost of providing an HSA-qualified plan is less than that of a standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. You might be thinking, this is good for the employer, but what does the employee think? Well, 72% of account holders chose the HSA-qualified plan even though they had other plan options, and 82% said their selection was based on the ability to save tax-free money.

According to the results of a survey released by Mercer (http://bit.ly/vZiiFL), due to the rising cost of healthcare plans and cost per employee, employers are taking action to try and keep costs down, e.g. nearly a third with 500 or more employees offer consumer-driven health plans, i.e. HDHPs linked to HSAs or health reimbursement accounts, up from <25% in 2010. Because of the high deductible to the employee, they cost less than other plans, around 20% less per employee than a PPO.

Here are two examples of leading benefits administration vendors helping their clients:

  • ACS, one of the first providers to implement an HSA in 2004, has 25,000 employer implementations and $1 billion in HSA assets
  • In 2010, Fidelity increased its number of HSA clients by >50% while adding 22,000 new indiviudal HSA accounts.

Providers can help with further education. Focusing on employees, I myself did not understand HSAs at first. I’m in my fourth year of having an HSA combined with my HDHP. First, let me say that I’m not the HSA spokesperson and there are pros and cons to any plan that need to be evaluated on an individual basis. The upside for those not familiar – speaking for my HDHP consumer-driven health plan I opened an HSA with – is that there are no co-pays and no forms to fill out. Preventative care is free, e.g. annual physicals. So if you are healthy, there are no costs except your monthly premium. But if you do get sick and need to go to the doctor, you pay out of pocket until the annual deductible is met, then in-network pays a high percentage until you reach your annual yearly max—that just happens to be approximately the same as the annual max I can contribute to my HSA; and like an IRA, the amount you contribute is deductible on your income tax.

HRO providers that can help clients navigate through the intricacies of healthcare will be greatly valued!

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

IBM & Air Canada: Proof that Traditional MPHRO Contracts Are Not Endangered

October 14, 2011

Before blogging about other current events such as ADP’s recent acquisition of The RightThing, one final announcement from HR Tech to address further is IBM’s contract win with Air Canada.

Air Canada was an early participant for outsourcing HR services as part of its business practice. In early 2004, it awarded a 7-year multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) services contract to Exult, which was acquired by Hewitt a few months later. Hewitt, and then “Aon Hewitt” since its acquisition, provided Air Canada’s ~36k employees with workforce admin, payroll, benefits admin, recruiting, and learning admin services, a very “traditional” MPHRO contract at the time.

In addition, Air Canada awarded NorthgateArinso with a 5-year contract for managed payroll services in the U.K. in late 2010.  Then it decided to shake things up by opening up its MPHRO contract for competition. Key to winning the contract would be a provider that would continue to drive innovative transformation and ensure lower costs.

Last week, it became clear that IBM was the provider that Air Canada was looking for when it signed a ~8 year MPHRO contract for Air Canada’s North American employees and retirees.  Services include HR contact center, employee data management, employee travel support, payroll, benefits admin, leave management, recruiting services with support from Manpower, and software application support for the HR systems used to provide the services.  This recently announced contract is proof that traditional MPHRO contracts are not endangered.

Several weeks ago, I discussed the four market segments of MPHRO that exist in the market.  Among the emerging segments such as “multi-country standardization” was the “client-specific shared service / transformation” group, which represents many of the traditional, transformative deals that occurred in the early to mid 2000’s such as Hewitt’s contract with Air Canada.  Although growth for this segment isn’t expected to be quite as high as the other emerging segments, it is still expected to increase modestly through 2015 contrary to popular belief.

IBM and Aon Hewitt are both leaders within MPHRO.  Within the shared service transformation segment, Aon Hewitt is ranked first in terms of revenue with nearly ~19% market share; IBM is ranked second with ~14% market share.  Aon Hewitt is also doing its part to keep this segment alive; earlier this year it signed a MPHRO contract of significant size with an unnamed financial services organization.

While all the focus lately is on the newer species of MPHRO contracts, specifically the multi-country standardization contracts, the four existing segments can and will continue to co-exist in the larger ecosystem.

If you’re a MPHRO provider focused on the shared service transformation market segment be sure to tout your contract awards and renewals, so everyone knows that this segment is alive and well.  We love to share the good news!

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

 

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