Adding to a growing suite of SaaS analytics tools, Florida-based Acclaris, a Willis Towers Watson company, is offering employers a new program to improve benchmarking of health savings accounts.

“Understanding how their business is changing in real time will help our clients stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market,” says Carlos Hernandez, vice president of strategic alliances.

It also helps Acclaris stand out from the competition, says Seth Ravine, chief revenue officer, because of the sheer amount of data and the easy-to-use capability they will be able to provide to their clients.

“It’s a very intuitive and clean system where any non-technical person can go into their accounts and cut the data however they choose to view it,” Ravine says.

With consumer-driven health care increasingly becoming the norm, more and more employees are expecting their employers to offer such real-time data availability. “We have always had reports our clients and employers were able to access, but they were static and were being pulled from a library of set reports and were updated usually on a monthly basis,” Ravine says. “With this new tool, we have enabled the employers and our aggregators to actually pull the information they want and look at it in different views.”

Not only will employers be able to view their personal HSA data, but they will also be able to compare their data to competitors to determine their standing in their respective industries, says Ravine.

Primary focus

Overall, many advisers say educating employers on the importance of benchmarking and tracking benefits, particularly healthcare and retirement, should be a primary focus in order to achieve a cost-efficient benefit program.

However, acquiring the necessary tools and information to accurately track healthcare and retirement program information can be complicated. It is especially challenging for employers trying to do it on their own, says Wendy Dominguez, principal and president of Innovest Portfolio Solutions. She says benchmarking could be greatly improved if information was more centralized.

“I think it could be easier for plan sponsors to get their hands on [the information],” Dominguez says. “You have to go to a lot of different places to benchmark a lot of different things.”

Acclaris is not the only company that is responding to Dominguez’s request for an easier access solution to benchmarking. Rick Jones, senior partner of national retirement practices at Aon Hewitt, offers a similar model.

“We work with companies to look at the health of their defined contribution plan investments in real time by measuring their plan against industry benchmarks, such as S&P 500 and Barclay’s Aggregate,” Jones says. “This allows them to make immediate changes to their fund lineup if needed.”

Jones added that at the participant level, helping companies understand how their defined contribution participants are behaving in terms of saving rates, investment allocations or loan activity allows them to adjust their plan design to achieve better outcomes for participants.

The goal of these new tools, says Acclaris’ Ravine, is to inform and educate employees to utilize their spending accounts in the right way.

“As an administrator, if they say, ‘Hey, I just setup [the HSA]. I’ve given [the enrollees] $500 a seed, and I’m done.’ That’s not right,” Ravine says. “Education is still the biggest barrier to successful experiences for an employee, and they are looking for that training and education from their employer.”

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