What Keeps Me Up At Night: A Message From Liazon’s Co-Founder and CEO
This fall, our company was proud to be a part of the launch of START-UP New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development initiative that taps into business and university resources to spur economic growth, starting in my hometown of Buffalo, New York. Even though Liazon is more than seven years old now, and we’ve recently been acquired by Towers Watson, a leading global provider of professional services, the spirit of entrepreneurship and technological advancement thrives here. It’s a good time for us to celebrate the new directions the company is taking, but also a good time for us to reflect on why we started Liazon in the first place. As founder and CEO of Liazon, I am constantly thinking about:
- The waste, inefficiency, and dissatisfaction inherent in the “one-size-fits all” model of employer sponsored benefits
- How to help our clients get more value out of the benefit dollars they spend
- How to best deliver peace of mind to all employees and their families when choosing benefits, one of the most important decisions they make each year
- How to make “personalized protection” the rule rather than the exception
Seven years ago, my co-founders and I spent a lot of time working on the business plan for what would later become Liazon. We were obsessed with the idea that there had to be a way to apply innovations in the retail, finance and other sectors to create a better way to buy employee benefits. This was years before the Affordable Care Act made headlines.
Our team believed that the existing system was broken. Our vision was that it could be fixed, or at least drastically improved, with a system that:
- Gives employees ownership over the benefit dollars that employers spend on their behalf
- Recognizes employee choice as the game-changing dimension that would lead to greater employer cost control and efficiency, and more consumer involvement in their health care
- Replaces the notion of “one-size-fits-all” benefits coverage with a marketplace from which consumers can shop for benefits, much as they shop for retail products, with the help of a “personal shopper” to guide them
- Uses sophisticated technology algorithms and “Big Data” analytics to run the marketplace and easily help employees match their needs with the right benefits for them
Today, Liazon Corporation operates the industry-leading private health benefits exchange for businesses across the U.S.
A private benefits exchange gives employees the ability to choose their own benefits from an array of provider and plan choices offered by their employer. Employers manage their health care costs by setting predictable budgets through a defined contribution funding strategy while our platform, operating as the Bright Choices® Exchange, guides employees to purchase the best portfolio of products to meet their individualized needs.
Recent estimates put the adoption rate for private exchanges at 45% by 2018.1 Those are good odds; I’ll bet they’ll be even higher once the true advantages are realized.
While health care is a big, thorny, and expensive national problem, it also strikes all of us closer to home. Recently, my wife gave birth to our second child. Having kids changes your view of everything, including insurance. It’s not just you anymore. I want them to feel secure, I want them to stay healthy – and I want the right amount of financial protection in place should anything happen to me, or, more importantly, them. We tend to lose sight of the real personal reasons for insurance but I’ve tried to build a company dedicated to changing that perspective.
Okay, the baby’s crying and it’s my turn.
Stay with us here on the blog for more insights on what’s happening with benefits exchanges and why you should care. We’ll have various members of the team weigh in, including my co-founder Alan Cohen – one of the foremost experts on benefits plan design and internet technologies. It’s important that you know not just what we do, but how we do it, and here, I hope I’ve expressed why we do it. Whether you’re an employer, a broker/consultant, an insurance company, a public policy expert, a health care consumer, or a parent, it matters. Welcome to the Liazon Blog. Join the movement.