Technology is having an impact on the employee benefits world, which is a crossroads because of the Affordable Care Act, Internet of Things and millennials, a panel of experts said this week at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Mania in Las Vegas.

Millennials — who are 25% of the workforce currently and are estimated to make up more than half of it by 2020 — were brought up by broadband and don’t know of an existence that does not have technology in everything they do, said Michael Lujan, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Limelight Health at the conference.

Michael Lujan speaks at EBA's Workplace Benefits Renaissance in Atlantic City, N.J.
Michael Lujan speaks at EBA's Workplace Benefits Renaissance in Atlantic City, N.J. Melissa A. Winn

But the change is also being driven by the industry. There were barriers in the past, such as Cigna having an enrollment system but folks on Aetna not being able to use it. “We now have this marketplace where technology is open,” Lujan explained. “API and EDI allow data to exchange.”

“It is a perfect crossroads in time fueled by Affordable Care Act compliance … that we have to have a better experience,” he added.

Some of the many benefits tech startups, including Zenefits, Namely and Gusto, all have an “unabashed focus on the consumer,” Lujan said. “What that means is … all kinds of consumer experiences [are] about to change because of that shift in technology.”

However, Lujan — who has experience as a broker, public exchange official in California and tech player — acknowledges that technology “is not going to make anything better or all our problems go away. “But it will help with transactional problems that our customers can’t stand,” such as having to fax documents, he added.

Other factors

Among the changes in benefits technology is online enrollment rapidly going downmarket, said Duane Chapman, executive vice president of Total Administrative Services Corp.

“Carriers are bringing [technology] downmarket and forcing small employers to use technology that they want,” he explained.” The broker is forced to deal with it; the broker should be more proactive, then reactive.”

Over the past year, technology was being “forced upon our clients and they didn’t really want it,” he added. “Once they got used to it, now they’re expecting it to be cheaper or free and as world changes around us, they are expecting it to do more things.”

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