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March 10, 2021

Self-Administration of the Benefits Plan — Transition Report

ARTA successfully took over the administration of the ARTA Retiree Benefits Plan on January 1, 2021. Now that we have completed the transition, I wanted to follow up on my winter news&views article to touch on some of our achievements and how we addressed the challenges that arose along the way.

One of the greatest benefits of self-administration is having one record for each ARTA member. When we used a third-party administrator, all member data (contact information, benefits coverage, dependant information, and so on) needed to be entered twice — once by ARTA and once by the plan administrator. There is always the chance for data entry errors when records are entered twice, and finding these errors is not always easy. Combining the two systems into one allowed us to do a comprehensive review of member data and correct any discrepancies between the two systems.

One piece of data that was missed during the initial data transfer was banking information for some members. Once we learned these members were being reimbursed by cheque instead of direct deposit, we provided their banking information to the adjudicator.

Call volumes were extremely high at the start of the administration roll-out. With all the changes being implemented at once, members were calling with questions. These questions took a lot of time to answer — especially for members who needed help enrolling in Knowing that new technology could pose a steep learning curve, we began hosting webinars to walk members through the enrolment process, how to submit a claim, and how to use the smartphone app. The webinars were well received and allowed us to answer many questions at the same time. This early success led to ARTA hosting additional webinars, specifically to answer as many member questions as we could at once. We also made recordings of the webinars available on the ARTA YouTube channel so members who were unable to attend could view the walkthrough videos.

ARTA’s front-line staff quickly became adept at providing the information that members were looking for, even though each of them had to learn to use a brand new administration system, most were new employees of ARTA, and no one could have direct person-to-person interaction because of COVID-19 restrictions. If you have ever gone through a systems change in your career (report card systems, time tracking systems, accounting systems, etc.), you can surely appreciate how difficult this can be. I must say, I am extremely proud of the Member Support team and how hard each of them has worked to make sure everyone’s questions were answered.

Another issue that we ran into during the transition was completely expected — the full claims experiences for November and December were not available until the middle of January due to the standard lag in data reporting from the benefits adjudicators. Once we received the final data reports, we passed them along to the new adjudicator so they could reference those prescription drug claims (such as special authorization claims made in the past year) and grandfather coverage for those particular medications. Once the final claims data was loaded, Green Shield Canada was able to review the recent claims, which may have been reduced by mistake, and make adjustments to ensure the coverage level with the new provider remained the same as before.

Now that ARTA has entered this next phase, we are pleased by the additional services we can begin to provide to members. Stay tuned for exciting announcements later this year.