The National Insurance Board (NIB) yesterday launched the pilot phase of the Employer’s Self-Service (ESS) portal which would allow employers to submit contribution forms and payments for their employees online.
Once the ESS is fully rolled out in mid-2020, employers will no longer need to visit NIB offices or drop box locations to make contributions as the online portal will offer secure and immediate online payment options.
NIB Director Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle said the ESS is the latest innovative tool being piloted by NIB to improve its business processes.
“The ESS portal is an online portal where employers may log on from anywhere at any time to manage their NIB accounts,” she said during a press conference yesterday.
“Two of the key benefits that will be experienced by employers is that the ESS will digitize and simplify the process of submitting contribution statements, C10s, and make contribution payments via online payments. Contributions are the heart of NIB operations and are used to accurately calculate benefits and determine claim eligibility.”
There was an initial attempt to roll out the ESS portal in 2016, however NIB halted the program shortly after its launch.
Since January, NIB has identified and addressed the issues encountered during that time and have improved the portal’s functionality.
“Work has been done to reduce the related backend processes,” Dr. Virgill-Rolle said.
“NIB has as its goal to implement the portal fully by mid-2020 and we expect that most employers will be using [the portal] and submitting their C10 contributions and paying their contributions online by that time.”
In 2016, NIB invested $14 million in the Vitech V3 system to digitize its administrative processes, however there were continued failures in the system leading to a backlog of more than 200,000 C10 forms that needed processing.
In May 2018, NIB commenced the V3 stabilization project to clear that backlog.
“We brought on a special team to manually process these C10s,” Dr. Virgill-Rolle said.
“By early this year we had over 24,000 of those [that] had been digitized and over 188,000 of those had been posted to employer accounts. With the implementation of these special initiatives the backlog was greatly and significantly reduced, and these would make claims processing significantly quicker in the future.
“In the V3 system, except for the very large employers – like government and [other] very large employers – the C10 statements are manually updated and submitted by employers to NIB by email or through the cashier windows. Once the C10s are received they would have to be scanned and then manually posted to the V3 system by NIB personnel and this was of course a mammoth task resulting in backlogs. The ESS portal puts the employer in control and simplifies the process. Our goal is to eliminate the backlog by providing employers with the convenient alternative of managing their account from anywhere, this is expected to result in a higher rate of compliance by employers.”
Employers would be in complete control of who has access to NIB accounts to manage ESS user accounts without any input from NIB.
Forty-one companies are participating in the pilot phase of the ESS portal, nine of which were trained yesterday: Dolphin Encounters, Rubis Bahamas Ltd, Kelly’s Home Center, the Reef House Paradise Island, J.S. Johnson Insurance Company, Kingsway Academy, Queen’s College, Old Fort Bay Property Homeowners Association and The Investment Group Bahamas.
“As you will note, these employers represent both small and medium-sized employees and it is important that we get their input at this pilot stage to determine and to understand how they interact with the system,” Dr. Virgill-Rolle said.
“At the end of the pilot program, employers will be able to share key findings with us as a result of their hands-on experience gained from the use of the portal.”