How to Run a Benefit Plan Design Analysis

As a benefits professional, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your benefits plan is competitive with the rest of your market. You never want to lose a strong candidate due to a weak benefits offering. Unfortunately, your competition isn’t publishing their health insurance plan on their blog, so this information could prove hard to acquire.

That’s why running a benefit plan design analysis is so important. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of how your benefits plan compares to the rest of your market, in addition to knowing what your population wants out of your benefits plan next year. There are simple solutions, like running through a benefit plan design checklist that can help you get a pulse on your offerings, but in order to generate a strong action plan, a full benefit plan design analysis is necessary.

To learn more about how technology is impacting the future of benefit plan design, download our white paper here.

Step #1 – Audit Your Current Benefit Plan

Before you look outside the organization, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of your current benefits offerings. Even if you designed the current plan yourself, you can glean valuable insights by auditing your current plan for gaps. Block off a day to review all of the documentation currently on the books for your:

  • Health insurance plan
  • Retirement plan
  • Life insurance plan
  • Wellness programs
  • Paid time off
  • Tuition reimbursement plan
  • Paid family leave options
  • Professional development plan

Simply running through these items could uncover areas that you’ve missed that are important to your team. In addition to understanding your offerings, it’s important to identify key usage metrics for each benefit to assess its importance. For example, you can identify the importance of retirement planning to your population by measuring 401k participation. Additionally, by leveraging a health analytics platform, you can identify what claims are driving costs. These metrics will be invaluable if you plan to make a case for increasing benefits spend in the next year.

Step #2 – Run a Needs Assessment of Your Current Benefits Plan

Next, you need to run a needs assessment with your current employee population. This usually involves a survey, sent out via email, with regular reminders. Oftentimes, it will take two or three emails in order to get an employee to complete the survey, so diligence is key. If you’d like to stoke more participation, consider offering an incentive like a random drawing for a $100 gift card for filling out the survey.

This survey should aim to answer questions such as:

  • How do you believe our benefits package compares to our competition?
  • In what areas are you satisfied with our benefits package? In what areas do we fall short?
  • Is our current 401k match higher, lower, or the same as your previous employer?
  • Do you receive more or less paid time off than in your previous role?
  • What areas are currently not covered under our insurance plan that you would like to see covered?

Make sure to make as many of these responses multiple choice as possible. While some open-ended questions are fine, you want to be able to point to statistics from the survey, and those statistics are easiest to gather when using multiple choice questions. Some examples of relevant stats may include:

  • 75% of our employees are satisfied with our current benefits offering.
  • 35% of our employees received a higher 401k match from their previous employer.
  • 82% of our employees receive more paid time off at our organization than in their previous role.

Because many of your employees have come from organizations that you compete with for talent, this survey can provide very valuable competitive intelligence on how your benefits stack up. This can help you make a persuasive argument for increasing benefits spend, or arm your executive team with intelligence that can help them recruit more effectively.

Step #3 – Find an Industry Benchmark of Other Benefit Plan Designs

As useful as surveys can be, the information is self-selected, which can skew results. One of the most useful tools in your toolbelt should be accurate industry benchmarks. You can choose to purchase these benchmarks from various data vendors, or you can select an analytics tool like Springbuk that has a benchmarking feature built-in.

Accurate benchmarking can allow you to have an understanding of what benefits your competition is offering, in addition to what sort of health claims your competition is incurring. This means you can report back to your team on how your health costs compare to industry averages.

Step #4 – Complete Your Benefit Plan Design Analysis By Comparing Multiple Plans, Apples-To-Apples

Finally, when you’re running a benefit plan design analysis, it’s important to compare as many plans as possible, apples-to-apples. If the only way you’re used to seeing health plans laid out is on paper, side-by-side, with an array of tables, this may sound exhausting. Fortunately, Springbuk has built a plan design modeler that solves this exact problem. Now you can design benefits plans in an easy-to-use platform, compare them side-by-side, and select the one that fits your population’s needs.

Moreover, these comparisons are based on your population’s historical claims data, which means they’re accurate and actuarially-sound. These models also account for future clinical forecasts.

Once you’ve compared your options side-by-side, you should have all the information you need to choose the right benefits plan for your population. You also have data points to reinforce your decision, and leverage to request an increase in benefits spend if necessary.

For more insights on designing the perfect benefits plan, download our Plan Design white paper. If you’re looking for a tool that can help you measure the effectiveness of your benefits plan more effectively, request a demo of our Springbuk health analytics platform.