Guide to Plan Management

With much anticipation, the NDIA has released its Guide to Plan Management. As well as helping participants understand how Plan Management works, it outlines ‘the broader system which plan management providers are expected to operate within’. Simply, the Guide sets the benchmark for Plan Managers everywhere.

Given our friends at Clickability explored what this Guide means for participants, we want to explore what it means for our community of Plan Managers. Undoubtedly, the Guide – and other announcements – has generated concerns for an already pressured service. We want to unpack these so that you can keep supporting participants and help them stay safe in our communities and have a fighting chance to achieve their goals. That’s our mission, as is yours.

Let’s take a broad look at the current state of play for Plan Managers, what the Guide means for you, and how Plan Managers can expertly and confidently support their participants into their future.

How does Plan Management look today?

According to the Disability Intermediaries Australia’s Sector Report, over 120,000 Australians are utilising a Registered Plan Management Provider. That accounts for more than 30% of all participants, a promising statistic at first glance. But the same report also found that 47 per cent of the registered Plan Managers who responded to the survey did not make a profit in the past year. And as Disability Services Consulting cautioned, this was before the pandemic.

The truth is the NDIA’s new Guide to Plan Management, and other announcements, places new, additional pressures on Plan Managers. (For instance, the NDIA now requires all claims to include ABNs, a complicated feat if a business doesn’t have an ABN.) The pressures certainly aren’t insurmountable, but they require time and resources to adapt to.

But there’s a silver lining. In knowing what the requirements are, it’s possible to invest in automation and systems that play to these requirements – that's what we work and strive for at LanternPay. Before we get into that though, it’s necessary to look at the Guide itself.

What does the Guide mean for you?

The Guide to Plan Management is long overdue and clarifies a Plan Manager’s roles and responsibilities. As our friends at Clickability said, this is great for participants, as it gives them a much better understanding of how Plan Management should work. The Guide explores what participants can expect from your service, from big picture tasks (their Plan Manager strengthening a participant’s own financial skills) to the minutiae (their Plan Manager validating invoices within 5 business days).

Disability Services Consulting goes into more detail, but the Guide contains a few revealing facts. Now,

  • You can only claim the Plan Management setup fee if an initial meeting has taken place, but this can occur over the phone or online.
  • You are responsible for paying all invoices for any issued after the end date of their prior Plan Manager, if they’ve changed to your service.
  • You are not responsible for connecting them with providers or rostering their supports, but some hypotheticals remain unanswered. (What if there’s no LAC within reach?)
  • You should be independent to the other services that the participant receives, although this only serves as a recommendation.
  • You should provide monthly reports to assist participants in over or underspending.

At the end of the day, the Guide sets a good benchmark and provides clarity, but is also added pressure for Plan Managers to continue delivering a quality service.

What systems can support you to be sustainable?

We’ve been intently focused on building such systems for a long time. It’s our key mission, supporting you to automate your own processes, so that your time can instead be spent supporting your participants. This is what good Plan Management looks like.

Every day, we support Plan Managers by building their systems around the following:

  • Capturing data directly from the source and keeping it current to reduce manual data entry.
  • System validation against NDIS rules so you can identify and solve problems early on and maximise successful claims.
  • Managing claims via NDIA portal or through APIs and disbursing funds to providers, making payments quick so providers and participants can focus confidently on the future.
  • Maintaining accurate and (crucially) up-to-date records and creating regular statements for participants so they are well informed.

In the real world, this is as simple as our Daily Sync, where we automatically synchronise every plan for every participant twice a day, to ensure claims can be made based on current budget data. This system saves time and improves accuracy so the providers and participants supported by our Plan Manager community can focus on what matters.

Simply, we hear you about the pressures Plan Managers face. Regular changes make this even more difficult. But clarity allows both yourself and us here at LanternPay to build quick and efficient systems, meaning you can continue your primary goal: supporting NDIS participants.