Dependent verification: client experience
Lara Kent, Senior Benefits Manager at Brinker International, shares her dependent verification experience.
Why did Brinker engage in dependent verification?
Lara Kent: In early 2009, Brinker was looking for plan cost savings for the next fiscal year without cost shifting to our team members. Many companies had already started utilizing dependent verification and they were consistently getting a high ROI. In addition to the immediate cost savings, we knew that an ongoing verification process would ensure we were meeting our fiduciary responsibility as a self-funded plan sponsor.
What challenges did you face in getting approval for a dependent verification audit?
Lara: Our biggest challenge in getting approval was getting past the “big brother” perception. Brinker has a very strong culture and we strive to balance the needs of our team members with the needs of the company. In the end, the decision to move forward was made based on the expected cost savings and the confidence that Alight could implement a dependent verification process with little to no disruption for our team members.
What was your stakeholder communication like?
Lara: Our communication plan was pretty extensive. We started at the top by notifying our executives and gave them information on why we were implementing a dependent verification process and a high level timeline. Then we talked about it in our company newsletter and mailed a letter to the home address of all team members who would be asked to provide documentation. We stressed the need to reduce costs and talked about the fact that ineligible dependents on the plan cost all team members more. We prepared our team members well so by the time the first letter came from Alight requesting documents, we got very few questions. This process worked well and I highly recommend announcing the new process internally first.
Initially, what were your most sensitive areas of focus and concern?
Lara: I was most concerned about the additional workload this type of project would have on my team. In the end, my team was completely unaffected. The service provided by the Alight call center, the ease of document submission and the communications that are triggered after each submission made for a completely seamless process.
What effort is required to maintain Plan-Guard ongoing dependent verification? Is it more or less than you expected?
Lara: Maintaining Plan-Guard is simple. We send automated weekly files to Alight and they send us reports back on a weekly basis. We have one person who is dedicated to reviewing the reports we get and she spends less than 30 minutes per week making sure we remove ineligible dependents from coverage.
What was the overall experience from your eyes?
Lara: Alight is constantly evolving to keep up with changing laws and new technology and our Client Manager, Melissa, is top notch. The employer web portal is fantastic and allows us to answer questions from team members and research past verifications. Alight’s Dependent Verification Services won our coveted Supplier of the Year Award for going above and beyond in their interactions with our team members and for having such a huge impact on our plan costs.