Healthcare cost control efforts spurred private exchange

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The League of California Cities — an association of 474 member cities representing 98% of all cities within the state of California — was not immune to rising healthcare costs. Concerned about controlling healthcare expenditures, including those of retired employees, and eager to provide flexible benefit options, the organization decided to do something about it.

Under the direction of Norman Coppinger, the association’s director of administrative services, the league launched the League of California Cities Health Benefits Marketplace last summer. The exchange features a technology platform, powered by Connecture and Willis Towers Watson, that provides flexible tools to help public agencies manage their unique benefits, contributions and eligibility structures.

“Under a properly constructed exchange, an employer is no long saying ‘one size fits all,’” says Coppinger, a 2017 recipient of an EBN Benefits Technology Innovator Award. “Rather, the employer is able to offer various coverage levels aimed at meeting the individual needs inherent with today’s diverse workforce. This flexibility allows employers greater opportunity to control cost while allowing employees to select coverages that align with their needs and those of their family.”

For the marketplace’s introduction, Coppinger created a comprehensive launch plan, which included webinars, an educational microsite and an extensive employee training and communications campaigns.

Overall, Coppinger says, a “labor-intensive” human resources industry makes technology investment necessary.

“For larger employers, the investment in HR staffing may be significant, while for smaller employers, adequate staffing often competes with other priorities,” he explains. “By leveraging innovation, technology streamlines the delivery and management of healthcare benefits and improves efficiencies for the HR function. A robust, technology-driven, consumer-oriented benefits platform also taps into the online e-commerce experience employees value in their personal lives and portrays the employer as progressive. Innovative technology that enhances the benefits selection and enrollment process creates a win-win environment for employers and employees alike.”

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HR Technology Benefit management Healthcare benefits Benefit strategies Benefit communication