Creating a Census for your Renewal isn’t as easy as you’d think


When a broker or insurance company asks for a census, they want to specifically know the important demographic data they use to build a pricing option for you.

Different plans require different specifics.  Sometimes gender, age, and company zip code is enough—other times you need exact birthdates for both the employee and eligible dependents as well as a full home address and home phone or cell phone numbers.  Newer vendors will sometimes use newer, more innovative strategies like data matching with these items to glean more predictive medical utilization projections.

Tip 1:

Know your end goal.  If you only need pricing for a dental plan, don’t overwork yourself.  Gender, birth date, home-zip code, and dependent enrollment should be more than enough.

If, however, you are going to get comparisons on Medical, Dental, Life, Disability, etc., build it once, and build it to the highest requirement of the product you want to end up evaluating or purchasing.

Tip 2:

Start with payroll data.  Most likely you need a full data set, and there is only one place that has your most up-to-date new hire data alongside your most recent employee termination data.  Run a report, and start here with your current active roster.

Tip 3a:

If you don’t have a Benefits Software, enlist your current Broker for help either creating the enrollment data or proofing what you show.  Matching the current employee data to the most recent billing is the easiest way even it if is a touch time consuming.  Also, at this step, make notes or highlight any employees on the billing that you believe should be dropped off the bill and circle back to audit those records before you forget.

Tip 3b:

If you have a Benefits Management Software or an HRIS system that stores benefit elections, look for a pre-built Census report — or create and save a custom report for future use.  Click run, download, and share.  Seriously, these tools make your life extremely efficient.

Tip 4:

If creating a custom report (not working from a template), report data fields separately when possible.  For example, report the street address and the apartment or unit number in separate fields.  Do the same thing with first, middle, and last names.  This will save time if you end up using the same census as the building blocks for a later upload in membership records or the above mentioned Benefits Software or HRIS style systems.

Tip 5:

Remember to Encrypt. Just do it.  Don’t email it unsecured.  Even if it doesn’t contain enough data to get you in trouble, don’t create a bad habit.  We all hate email encryption services, but we hate data breaches worse.  And if we over encrypt, no one has to worry about a HITECH fine or penalty.


MZQ Consulting, LLC

MZQ Consulting, LLC

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MZQ Consulting is a Benefits Compliance firm that specializes in Affordable Care Act Reporting and numerous other employee benefits-related compliance services. Our mission is to help people navigate the complex world of employee benefits compliance through our deep expertise and superb client service.