Fueling Top-Line Growth AND Bottom-Line Impact
As Carriers look to grow new revenue, generate operating efficiencies and gather market intelligence in employer markets, Trionfo has found their technology partnerships are poised to play a critical role.
Employers in today’s market desperately crave technology to alleviate manual, inaccurate and timely processes, however, there is a lack of resources available as few technology providers are willing to serve this space at a price point employers can afford. At the same time, brokers believe they are competing with technology providers and lack the resources to help their employer groups find suitable technology partners.
These forces combine to create an enormous opportunity for Carriers to deliver a carrier-based platform to their broker channels that can in turn be easily offered to that broker’s employer groups. By supplying the right technology to the broker channel and employers, carriers can spur the growth, retention and efficiencies needed in order to reach their top and bottom-line goals.
Market Overview — Employer and Broker Technology Today
According to a Guardian report, 60% of brokers think they will be competing with a benefits administration (benadmin) platform and 56% competing with an outsourcing platform. Sixty-four percent said they need support or help with a benadmin platform. To find that help, 85% of brokers said they would be looking to a third-party provider for that support. (See the infographic on page 2).
At the same time, 50% of Employers believe expanding benefits technology is a top strategy this year. Eighty percent of Employers stated lowering benadmin costs is a top priority but only half report being successful with it (See the infographic on page 2).
In other words, brokers believe they are competing with benefits technology but know they need help from it and are looking for support. Employers want more technology, but need guidance using it effectively and efficiently. This leaves an enormous opportunity for Carriers to give both brokers and employers what they need. By placing a carrier-based platform in the hands of brokers and employers Carriers can simultaneously grow their top-line and impact their bottom-line through that technology.
Meeting All the Needs
Based on our own early successes, Trionfo believes carrier-based platforms can become the primary delivery vehicle to meet both broker and employer needs while also helping the Carrier with top and bottom-line initiatives. This is accomplished by providing more value throughout the entire value chain than 3rd party technologies that only touch pieces of the process.
In order to be truly valuable, these carrier-based platforms must meet the business needs of the entire benefits spectrum (Carriers, General Agencies, agencies, brokers, employers, administrators and employees) with the following capabilities:
- Employer benefit modeling–using census information, plan information, and anticipated enrollment–to assist employers in determining the best benefit strategy through cost analysis and different employer contribution scenarios
- Employer onboarding, including electronic/paperless signatures for group applications
- Solid integration between quoting and enrollment modules
- Self-service employee enrollment and maintenance with the ability to automatically catch application errors
- Multiple levels of Reporting:
- Employer and Broker reporting including group member enrollment information
- Carrier-level reporting showing a breakout of both group and individual coverage purchases
- Audit reporting – identification of what information has been changed in the system and who made the change
Better Technology Means Better Service for All
Carriers who have implemented a platform have benefitted from increased internal efficiencies and efficiencies for brokers as well as more market intelligence and insights. The following are specific examples of achievements seen in the market to date:
- Employer modeling tools have:
- Revealed employers’ interest in participating more directly in the process of selecting their benefits package rather than just accepting a broker recommendation. This may provide an opportunity for Carriers to go direct to micro-employers in situations where employers don’t require the additional services brokers can provide.
- Optimized employers’ mix of employer contribution vs. employee contribution by considering different scenarios with different mixes of different benefit plans and contributions.
- Made it easy to determine the right overall benefit program by viewing the full portfolio of different benefit options available (medical, dental, vision, life, etc.).
- Platforms have reduced workload for General Agents by shifting group set up and individual enrollment to employers and employees. Without a platform, General Agents need to manually set up groups for quoting and then enter individual enrollment into Carrier systems separately.
- General Agents can more easily follow and track what groups their brokers are working with and where they are in the sign up/enrollment process. This is because platforms have the ability to serve as a CRM and provide visibility into groups as they move through the process.
- Some General Agents have eliminated Individual and group paperwork by transitioning their entire book of business onto a streamlined platform.
- Employers are more easily able to offer ancillary benefits through platforms with instantaneous quoting.
- The entire value chain is able to better understand the buying habits of both employers and employees as well as employer contribution strategies through system analytics.
Opportunities for Carriers to Better Serve Employers and Brokers
Although Carriers have built a foundation enabling them to better meet the needs of their broker channel and employer groups, opportunities still exist for future growth in three core areas:
- Simplifying experiences while increasing efficiency
- Broadened employer coverage capability
- Adding opportunities and increasing stickiness
Simplifying Experiences While Increasing Efficiency
Carriers have several opportunities to simplify and streamline user experiences within the broker and employer systems. Many of these changes could reduce Carrier costs while improving user experiences at all levels.
- Quoting / proposal generation – In today’s environment, medical quoting and enrollment are typically in two different systems and employers lack the ability to obtain self-service quotes. Carriers can use capabilities through a platform to support a “quote to card” environment, which will allow employers and brokers to begin and complete the process within a single platform.
- Improved renewal support – Today, employers cannot make changes to their medical plan offerings without jumping through several hoops because business processes are usually set up within several systems with no plan mapping. Ideally, employers should be able to add plans, drop plans and add coverage as they plan their renewals. This will improve the overall utility of the system and provide Carriers additional revenue sources through a broadened product portfolio.
- Automated membership process – By creating a capability to load eligibility and enrollment directly from the platform into internal operations systems, Carriers can eliminate the manual processing of enrollment, thereby reducing costs, errors and simplifying business processes for employers and brokers.
- Single Sign On (SSO) for brokers, employers and members – Through SSO, Carriers can set up credentials to be used for both systems, simplifying the user experience for brokers and employers using the system. Doing so provides a streamlined user experience from all angles.
- Case submission status reporting: Providing tools to give brokers and employers updates on the status of their case submission will improve their experience and reduce customer service calls.
Broadened Employer Coverage Capabilities
Another opportunity is to use a carrier-based platform as a vehicle to serve employer needs for individual and family coverage as well as Medicare Supplement products. Carriers can leverage employer relationships into individual relationships for both employees that are tied to employers as part of the “gig” economy (short-term contracts or freelance work), or those who leave an employer and require coverage as individuals. Breaking down the silos between a Carrier’s lines of business will allow employees/individuals to remain a part of the Carrier’s ecosystem with little to no effort.
- “Gig” economy participant enrollment – According to CNBC, contract employees are growing 27% faster than payroll employees. Carriers can add a standalone individual and family capability into an offering to allow contract and contingent employees of employers to enroll in various products.
- Post-group “off boarding” for employees – Carriers can leverage an existing relationship with a member to offer them individual and family coverage through the platform after they leave their employer
- Medicare Supplement offerings – Platforms have the ability to make Medicare supplement offerings available to Medicare eligible employees and former employees.
Adding Opportunities & Increasing Stickiness
Carriers can use the system as a vehicle to increase the strength of their relationships with employers and reduce the need for employers to use additional or less efficient technology. (Thereby helping employers reach the goals outlined on page 1.)
It is a similar outcome for brokers. A carrier-based platform eliminates the threat of technology-based competition and allows brokers to become experts with the technology they use to sell and their employer groups use to administer benefits. A carrier-based platform will also reduce the willingness of employers and brokers to change carriers because they would lose the technology used to manage their clients, employees and Benefits.
Now is the Time
It is evident by the stats stated above and through Trionfo’s own experience, that employers are seeking technology but cannot afford it, do not know where to find it or how to make it more efficient. Brokers want to provide this technology to their employer groups but need guidance and certainly do not want to compete with technology providers.
The benefits technology marketplace is undergoing a dramatic transformation. A carrier-based platform provides an opportunity for Carriers to take their leadership position with employers and brokers and make it even stronger, while lowering cost and providing greater customer satisfaction.