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Web-Based Tool Built In-House

November 9, 2001
Related Topics: Benefit Design and Communication, Tools
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Open enrollment for 2001 presented enormous challenges for Prudential Insurance.Because the company sold its group health insurance business, all of its 37,000employees had to re-enroll with one of the 150 new providers -- or their insurancewould be canceled. To ease the chaos and improve data quality, the company builta $500,000 Web-based enrollment application to replace the paper-based forms andreduce use of the interactive voice response system.

LargeCompany
Name:PrudentialInsurance Company of America
Location:Newark,New Jersey
Business:Lifeinsurance and financial services company
Employees:37,000

    Every employee had an average of 15 plans that required some action, or thesystem would default to "no coverage," says Gerard Bu, vice presidentof corporate center operations and systems/tech services. To make sure thatdidn't happen, Bu and his team built a navigation wizard on top of the applicationto guide users through the site.

    The first time employees logged on, the wizard popped up and walked them throughenrollment, says John Heutz, director of information systems at corporate centersystems/technology services. It verified that they had completed all the mandatoryfields, then automatically directed them to the next necessary step. After theirinitial enrollment was complete, employees could take control of the site andgo anywhere to make changes or re-evaluate their choices. "The wizard makessure nothing gets overlooked," Heutz says.

    Prudential's health-care providers worked closely with the IT team to createthe site, supplying online directories of their plans and links to their ownsites for more information. Bu's team also made sure the site's framework andtools coupled closely with the company's PeopleSoft HRMS so that all the datawould move smoothly within the system.

    Once the tool was complete, the HR department sent mass e-mailings and memosreminding people to re-enroll or lose coverage. Then everyone sat back and waited."We weren't sure how it would hold up," Heutz says, "especiallyunder peak usage."

    The site was built to handle 1,000 users at once. Then, just to be safe, Bu'steam added two identical sites at separate locations in New Jersey and New Yorkin case a server went down or traffic exceeded 1,000 simultaneous users.

    It went live at 8 a.m. on October 23, 2000, for the 2001 enrollment. Peoplestarted using it right away. It held up without a glitch, even under the heaviesttraffic -- at 3 p.m. on the last day of enrollment, when nearly 1,000 usersenrolled simultaneously.

    "Reaction was better than we expected," Heutz says. He had predicted70 percent usage, but 85 percent of employees enrolled online. The other 15percent used the interactive voice response system because they said it wasfast and easy to use.

    Compared to the old system, the data collected during the massive re-enrollmentwas "very clean and accurate," Bu says. "With paper enrollment,there were always problems. Forms got lost, and there were a lot of appealsfrom employees whose enrollment got screwed up." This year there were veryfew appeals, he says. And because every use of the online enrollment tool isrecorded, when there were appeals, they were easily reconciled.

    Prudential has no plans to add claims management to the site just yet, butBu and his team are working on additional enrollment tools and adding an extensivehealth plan comparison guide. "Soon new hires will be able to enroll onlinethe day they arrive, and existing employees will be able to make coverage changesanytime during the year."

Workforce, November 2001, pp. 66-68 -- Subscribe Now!

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