Benefitfocus platform expands distribution channel

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Cloud-based benefits management and service provider BenefitFocus recently launched BenefitsPlace, which unites brokers, employers, carriers and specialty product suppliers on a single platform featuring a range of products geared toward any life stage.

With defined data integration standards for each product, as well as preset system and configuration settings, BenefitsPlace combines decision-support tools for personalized benefits enrollment and management. Standardized integrations ensure billing data is in sync with enrollment systems of record.

An expanded distribution channel allows carriers to seamlessly add health, wealth and lifestyle benefits products from flagship brands. In addition, custom messaging helps them educate consumers about their benefit choices and deliver a consistent enrollment experience. Brokers also receive support services and data-driven insights from a team of subject matter experts to help employer clients enhance their benefit portfolios at a lower cost.

“The idea is that it unify all of those different priorities and products, and bring them into one place, whether it’s a critical-illness or accident plan, pet insurance, or even long-term care,” says Chad Cruse, VP of BenefitsPlace at Benefitfocus.

He describes the ensuing benefits strategy as a collaborative effort between the employer, broker or consultant and BenefitsPlace adviser. In a marketplace driven by self-service, Cruse believes it’s vital to have an “ability to curate a true consumer experience at the point of enrollment.”

That means allowing employees and their dependents to make all of their benefits-related decisions at one time and in one place, and understand how each of them is interrelated. Apart from traditional decision support, the platform provides a 90-second video clip at the point of decision that guides individuals through multiple choices.

For example, after enrolling in a high-deductible health plan and exposing themselves to some out-of-pocket risk, they can click on a link that explains all about a critical-illness or accident plan to determine whether one of those products will be an appropriate fit.

“These video clips quickly and concisely explain to employees not only what the product is, but also how it works and shows the way the dollars flow in the event of a claim,” Cruse explains.

Since employer groups in the 1,000-plus lives space are heavily reliant on advisers to help develop a benefits strategy, Benefitfocus built a dedicated broker channel to serve these customers. “We have an entire team of individuals whose sole responsibility is to call on brokers and manage broker relationships,” he says.

Employers, brokers, insurance carriers and specialty product suppliers can use BenefitsPlace to connect best-in-class voluntary and ancillary benefits products with more than 20 million consumers.

Kent Horsman, Lockton’s voluntary benefits director, has been recommending Benefitfocus for the past year and a half. He considers the BenefitsPlace design to be more broker-friendly and likes that it easily explains how various products work and fit into the overall benefits portfolio. Another key selling point is that carriers help support the cost of the overall platform.

“My clients can get a little bit higher-end technology,” he says, reporting significantly better participation in products than the previous voluntary benefit exchange that was offered called Benefitstore because of more active engagement. “We can also match up and underwrite potential commissions that might come in to give them just a better overall price point.”

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