Part I: Setup

In our quest to reduce manual benefits management Nelnet has decided to begin using the Vista HRMS Current Enrollment Wizard for our new hire benefits enrollment. This article will discuss our setup process, but watch for a follow up article in June on our roll-out experience.

The Basics of Current Enrollment
The Current Enrollment Wizard has been available before now, but recent updates led Nelnet to adopt the process. The ability to step employees through an Enroll Status which prevents elections from being processed until they’ve been reviewed was added in Update 410093. Then in Update 410098 the ability for employees to elect future eligible plans, which sets the active date as the eligibility date, was added.

The process now begins with a new hire in Initial Status. In this status they have access to the Current Enrollment Wizard which will display all eligible and future eligible plans for the employee. The employee makes elections through the Current Enrollment Wizard just like they would in the OE Wizard.

Once the employee completes the Current Enrollment Wizard, they are automatically moved to Pending Status. In this status they can no longer access the Current Enrollment Wizard and their elected plans will not be processed by Benefits Processing. An email or workflow is sent to the designated users to alert administrators that the employee’s elections are ready for review.
Benefits administrators can then review the employee’s elections. After review the benefits administrator sets the employee’s new status. If changes need to be made the employee can be reset to Initial Status and go through the Current Enrollment Wizard again. If the elections are ready to go the employee can be set to Active Status. In Active Status the employee will be processed normally by Benefits Processing (big or small).

Setting up the Current Enrollment Wizard
Our first step in setting up our Current Enrollment Wizard was determining what would be included in the wizard. The Current Enrollment Wizard settings are found in the Benefits application Setup Tables (just like the OE Wizard settings). Flags are available at the Plan Group level to determine if the benefits plans will be included in the Current Enrollment Wizard, whether to include the plan’s costs, and whether an election is required for the benefit plan:

Keep in mind some setup is “shared” by both the Current Enrollment Wizard and the Open Enrollment Wizard. If the benefit plan is included in both wizards the descriptions at the benefit group, plan, and option levels will be used by both wizards. The same is true of the “Benefit election is required for this plan group.” You will need to make these setup pieces universal or switch them back and forth based on which election wizard you’re running.

During our Current Enrollment Wizard setup process we learned how to create a list of values for a plan. Nelnet doesn’t include our voluntary life insurance plans in the OE Wizard since they roll over from year to year and changes need to be made through the provider.  However, our new hires would need the option to elect coverage in the Current Enrollment Wizard. We were concerned about how they would enter the plan valuation. We have a minimum coverage requirement of $10,000 and employees often don’t know they even need to provide an amount. A comment in the margins of my session notes from the last UGA conference provided the answer.
On the Enrollment tab of the Benefit Plan Option setup there is an icon next to the Valuation Formula field:

We chose to auto-increment and started our list at the minimum coverage amount of $10,000 (the Initial Value) with an incremental value of $10,000. Since the maximum coverage amount is $500,000 we set our Max Entries at 50. This provides the employee a list like this:

Configuring the System for Use and Access

After we finalized the content of our Current Enrollment Wizard we needed to configure our system to use it and allow newly eligible employees to access the wizard. This includes making changes to several security and database options.

SecOpt 1047, Benefits Eligibility Edit – This option allows users to edit the eligibility information for an employee, including their Enroll Status. The users who will be reviewing the Current Enrollment Wizard elections and moving the employee to Active Enroll Status will need Full Access to this option.

SecOpt 1044, Benefits Enrollment Wizard – Current – This option allows users access to the Current Enrollment Wizard. Users will need Full Access in Self Service to this option. Nelnet found it was best to make sure we did not check the “Option is visible” box for this security option.

DBOpt Ben Process Enrollstatus Changes – This option determines what should happen when an employee’s Enroll Status changes from Initial to Pending. You can choose None, Email, or Workflow. Nelnet has chosen to receive an email when this occurs. The email contains the following information:

DBOpt Ben Process Enrollstatus Email Address – If you choose the Email option for the previous DBOpt, you will need to use this option to designate what email the notification is sent to.

DBOpt Newhire Enroll Status – This option determines what the default Enroll Status is after the new hire benefit processing. This should be set to Initial.

DBOpt Newhire Show Enroll Status – This option determines if the Enroll Status should be shown in the new hire wizard. Nelnet set this option to True so we can verify and edit the Enroll Status if needed.

Finally, we had to create a way for new hires to launch the Current Enrollment Wizard. Our first thought was to create a Self Service Web Page Option for the Current Enrollment Wizard like we had for our OE wizard. However, we quickly found in testing that this link worked for employees in the Active Enroll Status as well as the Initial Enroll Status. We decided we weren’t ready to allow employees to make changes once they’re in Active status and will not provide a Self Service link. If your new hires are in their own security group, you may still be able to use a Self Service link and only grant security access to the link for your new hire group.

As an alternative to the Self Service link, Nelnet will direct our new hires to the Current Enrollment Wizard icon on their Benefits screen:

This icon is only available to employees in Initial Enroll Status, so we can target the new hire group.

Adding Dependents and Beneficiaries

You may remember that Nelnet added Coverage Associations to our eligibility process. That means that our new hires need to enter their dependents and beneficiaries before completing the Current Enrollment Wizard in order to be eligible for the appropriate plans. There are a couple ways to allow employees to add dependents and beneficiaries.

You can use the EWZ Validate Dependents database option to add the dependent and beneficiary dialog to the beginning of the Current Enrollment Wizard. This basically adds the Contacts screen to the wizard and employees would add and edit contacts just like an administrator would in Personal>Contacts. For this option, employees will need to be granted Self Service Full Access to the Associated Parties (1030), Benefits – Dependents/Beneficiaries (1046), Contacts (15) and Contacts – Dependents (30) security options.

You could also grant Self Service Workflow security access to those options and have the employee edit their Personal>Contacts page outside the Current Enrollment Wizard. The changes would trigger a workflow that you can build to meet your needs.

Nelnet has used the EWZ Validate Dependents option with our OE Wizard in the past. We found that our employees rarely completed all the tabs and flags correctly.  We felt that because the Contacts page has the same structure, workflow access to that page wouldn’t work well for us either.

So we decided on a variation of the workflow access option. We worked with PDS to create a custom Vista HRMS page and accompanying workflow to simplify the process for our employees.

A Note About Coverage Associations

Keep in mind that Coverage Associations apply to plan eligibility and not dependent electability.

For an employee with only a spouse contact, Coverage Associations will prevent the employee from being eligible for an Employee + Child plan option.

And Coverage Associations would make an employee with a spouse and children contacts eligible for the Employee + Spouse plan option, the Employee + Child plan option, and the Family plan option. However, Coverage Associations will not prevent the employee from electing their spouse as a dependent on an Employee + Child plan option. Coverage Associations won’t require the employee to elect the spouse and children (instead of just a spouse or child) for the Family plan option, either.

You will still need to audit the elections to be sure that the right type of dependent is included on the benefit plan option. That’s where the review step before moving the Enroll Status to Active comes in.

And don’t worry, extending Coverage Associations to the election piece is on my UGA conference brainstorming list! (Have you started your brainstorming list yet?)

Where Do We Go From Here?

As you can imagine, these changes require training the administrators in the new process and updating all our communications to new hires regarding benefits enrollment. We’ll be working through those items and rolling out the process for our April hires who will be eligible June 1st. Stay tuned for a follow up in the June newsletter on how that goes!

Gretchen Schmidt
Payroll & Benefits Analyst