Where is it written in stone that the benefits that will help employees at retirement are so different from those that support them today that they should have distinct enrollment and ongoing support processes?

MassMutual Financial Group apparently could not find it anywhere, and then developed an integrated benefits exchange combining retirement savings, healthcare and virtually all other kinds of benefits in a unified, cloud-based system.

BeneClick! is being road-tested today by several existing clients but is on track for launch in mid-2016, according to the company.

Also see: 10 reasons employees hate wellness programs.

The underlying theory is that good communication and selection tools that present the full spectrum of benefits holistically (“one-stop shopping”) will result in optimum employee utilization of what is offered to them, giving employers more bang for their benefits buck.

Although MassMutual retirement and life insurance products will be among those offered, BeneClick! is an exchange platform that gives employers latitude to create a comprehensive benefits menu. The exchange is built on a partnership between MassMutual and Maxwell Health; the latter provides the technology platform.

Maxwell Health’s mission, according to the company, “is to empower people to take charge of their health and well-being” through its end-to-end benefits operating system, allowing employees “a mobile platform where employees access everything benefits-related, navigate the healthcare system, and manage their health and wealth.”

To that degree, Maxwell Health shares the aims of jiff.com, a customizable benefit design platform. Jiff.com, however, focuses exclusively on healthcare benefits and solutions, including wellness engagement tools. Through its relationship with MassMutual, Maxwell Health has expanded its scope.

Also see:State retirement plans get DOL blessing.

One BeneClick! feature designed to keep employees from being overwhelmed by the full range of benefit choices is a “shop by bundles” option, which MassMutual compares to “buying a complete outfit.”

Employees can browse, for example, bundled packages suggested for their age bracket, based on three cost tiers: core, enhanced, and premium. “The bundles package together traditional employee benefits with complementary lifestyle products and services,” says Bill Silvanic, MassMutual’s senior vice present for worksite insurance.

Benefit bundles

On the enrollment website, employees can “just point and click to select their benefits bundle.”  Employers define the elements of each bundle, and set the cost-sharing parameters as they do with traditional systems. MassMutual offers the as an illustration the following three tiers of bundled packages as possibly suitable for employees in the 34-55 age bracket:

  • Core:  Medical, dental, vision, retirement savings, employer-paid group term, whole life, and employer-paid short-term and long-term disability coverage. If the medical coverage is a high-deductible health plan, include a health savings account or flexible spending account. If the medical coverage is a health maintenance organization, add a health reimbursement arrangement or FSA?
  • Enhanced:  Add critical illness and accident coverage.
  • Premium: In addition to critical illness and accident coverage, add identity theft protection, legal services, wellness incentives with a fitness device, legal insurance and credit financing.

Bundled packages would only be a supplement to an a la carte menu, enabling employees to create their own benefit portfolio. BeneClick! also features a “Map My Benefits” planning tool announced earlier this year that uses third-party-generated algorithms that allow employees to construct a customized set of benefits they are eligible for, and automatically see what they would pay for each component.
Also see:Using data to drive successful plan outcomes.

This “personal guidance” engine “analyzes basic information provided by the employee about his or her personal financial situation, including income and expenses, as well as current insurance coverage and retirement savings,” according to MassMutual.

The system can operate from the assumption that a relatively low-income employee might need to allocate a higher proportion of benefit dollars to healthcare than to retirement savings, on the basis that ultimately Social Security would replace a higher proportion of his income than it would for a more highly compensated employee. Conversely, “highly compensated employees may need to increase contributions to their 401(k) to continue their lifestyles when they retire,” according to MassMutual. 

The system is able to incorporate data about coverage employees have that aren’t part of an employee benefit program to generate suggested benefit choices.

Ongoing utilization

BeneClick! features resources employees can use on an ongoing basis unrelated to the enrollment process. For example, if employers pick up the tab, employees can access suite of services from Health Advocate, including claims and billing support, and mobile app integration.

That mobile integration, among other things, enables to synch with wearable fitness devices like FitBit, and wellness incentive programs.

Also see:A financial wellness program's unusual benefit: Fewer sick days.

As an exchange platform, BeneClick! also serves as a unified conduit to Web-based resources of the health plan providers that employees choose through the enrollment process.

A dashboard for employer use “includes everything that [the employer] would need to administer benefits,” Silvanic says.

Set-up fees are waived for employers of any size that use MassMutual’s defined contribution plan services and its whole life insurance. Employers with at least 100 employees need only incorporate one of those two into their benefits offering.

Richard Stolz is a freelance writer based in Rockville, Maryland.

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