Automation Could Help Control Health Care Costs

August 16, 2012 ( – Many companies have yet to realize the full potential for health care benefit cost savings and operational efficiency, according to a study.

The third annual bswift 2012 Wellness & Benefits Administration Benchmarking Study, conducted in conjunction with Employee Benefit News, found 34% of employers with more than 500 employees use entirely paper-based benefits enrollment processes for newly hired employees, and 81% manually monitor incomplete enrollments to alert new hires, or do not alert them at all.   

Only 36% have an automated dependent “age out” process for canceling coverage (e.g., reaching age 26), and 34% still manually reconcile paper health insurance invoices against benefit records, or do not reconcile at all.   

The study identified the cost impact of an effective wellness program and a fully automated benefits-administration solution as 327% and 410% risk-adjusted return on investment (ROI), respectively.   

“The findings are clear,” said bswift CEO Rich Gallun. “Employers continue to leave money on the table when it comes to benefits administration. We anticipate that the unrelenting pressures to improve organizational performance and profitability will drive more employers to implement fully automated solutions to save money in order to free up staff and also detect costly errors.”

The study also found employers in 2012 continue to enhance their wellness programs to change employee behavior and move toward health outcomes that impact the bottom line. Seventy-six percent of employers with more than 500 employees now offer some form of incentives to motivate employee participation in wellness programs. The most commonly incentivized components include health risk assessments (HRAs) and tobacco cessation programs.   

Sixty percent now incorporate biometric testing (measuring such health indicators as blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI) into their wellness programs, and 40% of employers offering wellness programs also provide incentives—such as credits toward health benefit contributions—to employees for completing the tests.   

Employers are beginning to incentivize employees to achieve specific biometric targets; 10% have taken this step.   

A full copy of the survey report can be downloaded from