Time to Change the Way You Think About Private Exchanges
In my role as Chief Revenue Office for Liazon, I talk to a lot of employers who understand that the current model of benefits distribution is deeply inefficient and unsustainable. They’ve bought into the idea that a “defined contribution” for benefits allows them to control their budgets from year to year and give their employees the freedom to choose the benefits that make sense for them. But then there are those companies who I will inevitably run into that are still hooked on the status quo. They tell me, “My employees aren’t going to be able to figure this out,” or “It’s just too big a change for us.” Sometimes that may be true. And then there’s Bright Choices®.
Here’s how my team and I respond to these two common objections:
1. Your employees are smart – and our system makes them even smarter.
Consumers today are using technology to do everything from opening a bank account to opening their car doors. Technology isn’t the scary thing it once was and we have personnel from all types of industries – from construction to consulting – choosing benefits for themselves and their families using a Liazon-powered exchange. Quite frankly, people are shopping for just about everything online, so why not benefits?
Bright Choices is designed to make choosing the right plans from among many choices simple and easy, even if you aren’t a computer genius or a benefits professional. We start with the premise that choice requires education and guidance, and that’s exactly what the Bright Choices Exchange provides with:
An award-winning recommendation engine – Bright Choices uses sophisticated statistical modeling to predict the right combination of plans for each person’s unique situation. Each employee completes a short profile questionnaire that gets to know them across multiple dimensions such as health, finances, and personality. Bright Choices then recommends a benefits portfolio with a range of coverage that includes medical – along with other insurance products like life, disability, critical illness, dental and more – that fits their requirements while minimizing out-of-pocket costs. It’s just like having a personal shopper available anytime you want or need them.
General insurance education – Some people like to do online research before they shop; others don’t. For those who do, Bright Choices offers user-friendly videos, articles, FAQ’s, and a glossary of terms, all in simple language minimizing the confusing “insurance jargon.” There’s even a section devoted to “Understanding Your Exchange” to help them see the bigger picture and learn about our process.
Comparison tools – When your employees search for plans using Bright Choices, they’ll see familiar comparison tools that allow them to compare the cost, coverage, and key features of different plans side-by-side, just as they would when they shop for other products online. Then, if they want, they can drill down on plan summaries even further to understand how different plans work and find details on specific coverages, such as what doctors are considered in-network.
With our decision support technology doing the work for them, and the ability to speak to dedicated advisors who can offer additional support, Bright Choices has enabled thousands of people to become more educated about benefits and find the complete coverage that works best for them. And having educated employees can be the best way to control costs. When employees understand that the money is their own to spend (versus someone picking and buying for them) they actually make wiser choices. This leads to better utilization of care which helps everyone since there will be less waste in the system.
2. With big changes comes big rewards.
There’s no skirting the fact that this is a big shift in how companies offer, and employees obtain, benefits. It requires that you and your employees rethink your roles and responsibilities when it comes to benefits, while conceding that the current model is deeply inefficient and unsustainable.
You have to believe that people should be buying benefits for themselves, and not have the company decide for them. After all, company management can’t really know the details of all their employees’ lives and their unique situations. The good news is that with nearly 1,000 companies on the exchange and 8 years of experience, we’ve become highly adept at leading this change for companies through proven best practices and refined processes.
Clients who do take on the change with Liazon find that:
— Nearly 90% of employees prefer choosing their own benefits over having their employers make this decision for them.
— 74% of their employees are more aware of the money their employers are spending on their benefits.
— 53% percent of their employees enroll in a health plan that qualifies them to establish and contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA), far above the national adoption rate for these cost-efficient plans.
— And, 93% of employers using the Exchange for at least two years said that Liazon has helped them control their benefits costs after the second year.
The latest research indicates that 83% of employers are re-evaluating their benefits strategies. So while it may be “a big change,” a private exchange can go a long way for both you and your employees. What are you waiting for?
 Liazon Employer & Employee Surveys, 2014
 “Private Exchanges: Data Illustrating the Impact of a Retail Shopping Experience Aided by Decision Support and Education Tools,” Liazon Whitepaper, 2013
 “Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey Results,” PricewaterhouseCoopers, June 2015