From the July/August 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Beefing Up Payment Systems

Health benefits administrator SHPS streamlined its systems just before rising unemployment caused a spike in its payments volume.

High U.S. unemployment brought a surge in the incoming payments handled by SHPS, a benefits administrator in Louisville, Ky. Fortunately, the company had streamlined its systems with state-of-the-art banking products before the wave hit and was prepared to handle higher volumes and provide quick turnarounds to keep last-minute payers insured.

“The economic collapse did impact us,” says Kevin Scarborough, vice president of finance at SHPS. “It brought us new clients and more volume from existing clients as more participants went on COBRA. We hated to see more people unemployed, but we welcomed the additional business.

Making the payment process quick, flexible and automatic helps the people SHPS collects from, some of whom are squeezed financially and may need to make just-in-time payments. “COBRA participants likely are now unemployed,” Scarborough says. “They’ve lost their paychecks. They’ve lost the 50% to 80% subsidy that their employer paid for their health insurance while they were employed.

“They are now paying anywhere from $250 to $1,000 a month, and some have chronic medical conditions that make it important for them to continue coverage,” he explains. “They need a system that lets participants make last-minute payments in a safe, secure way and notifies the carriers so that coverage continues.”

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