Managing Benefit Plans Part 1

Managing Benefit Plans Part 1

This course is required to earn the following designations: GBA, CEBS (updated January 2023)

A purpose-driven benefits plan is a critical success factor in a total compensation strategy aimed at recruiting and retaining employees in today's global and mobile talent market as benefits can be a compelling differentiator in meeting workforce expectations for security, choice and personalization. Effective benefits plan management is increasingly important. There is no single approach. The structure of the plan management function will reflect the plan sponsor's unique context, considering its business strategy, specific talent needs and competition and broader compensation practices. The scope of related benefit plan management activities needed will also reflect benefit-plan specific factors such as group size, coverage comprehensiveness and complexity, whether benefits are insured, legislative requirements and the service providers engaged by the plan sponsor. However, there are key concepts, principles, and processes to apply.

GBA 1 provides a framework of concepts, principles and processes that is transferable to varying types of plan sponsor contexts. It offers a strategic approach for evaluating benefit needs and selecting an appropriate mix of life and health benefits from the continuum of options available. Financial and premium rate setting considerations essential to managing plan sponsor financial risk and factors impacting bets fit administration decisions are covered. Roles of insurers and other specialized service providers, such as third-party administrators and employee assistance professionals, in supporting effective benefits plan management are explored. Text-based reading is supported with tax guidance and industry-based practice guidelines regarding coordination of benefits, as well as insurer sales guidelines and advisor disclosure guidelines intended to protect the plan sponsor in the marketing process. Applications are illustrated in numerous case studies. 

Topics covered in GBA 1

  • Managing Risk in Benefit Plans
  • Leveraging the Benefits Plan Management Function
  • Applying Functional Analysis to Benefit Plans
  • Designing Benefit Plans
  • Funding Benefit Plans
  • Administering Benefit Plans
  • Processing Benefit Plan Claims
  • Initial Pricing of Group Insurance Products
  • Establishing Renewal Rates for Group Insurance
  • Marketing a Group Insurance Plan
  • Learning the Benefits Management Ropes—From Funding to Admin to Marketing 

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Resources for GBA 1


Successful completion of comprehensive exam         



GBA 1 Study Guide, including online access to the guide and practice exam, 2nd Edition   



Group Benefits Plan Management, 3rd Edition

Ann O'Neill, editor, Advocis, 2022

ISBN 978-1-895477-78-8
(Note: This text is also used in GBA 2.)

*Readings Updates   



Online Study Group With Instructor Support
12-week sessions in fall, spring and summer

Success Package                C$668

Save 20% when you purchase the Online Study Group and corresponding Exam Package.



Study Guide—Delivered in Print and Online!

The CEBS Study Guide is an essential component for mastering the CEBS material you will be tested on in the examination. Your Study Guide purchase is made through Books for Business and includes both a printed study guide and access to an online environment.

  • Learning Modules provide structured coverage and highlight key elements and critical takeaways of the Assigned Reading. The learning modules draw on readings from Textbooks and journal articles written by leading academics and expert practitioners.
  • Applications are designed to make you think about how what you are learning translates to the work world. Two types of applications are provided throughout the CEBS courses—Benefits in Action and Integrated Cases (Capstone Cases).
  • Practice exam, accessible in the online environment, provides immediate results indicating the areas that may need additional study, along with page reference sources and an explanation of correct responses.


A textbook and/or supplementary readings are required for each course, providing the theory and content of the topics covered in the study guide.

Online Study Group With Instructor Support

Need a little push to stay on track or the security of expert and peer support? Online study groups are for you. Guided study groups provide access to instructors, a structured time frame and peer interaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

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