Better Benefits Podcast Episode #7: Better Dental Benefits with Alex Frommeyer of Beam Dental

In this episode, our guest Alex Frommeyer, Founder and CEO of Beam Dental shares the vision he is realizing at Beam for better dental benefits that don’t just cover costs but also help us keep our smiles healthier. 

A new approach to dental benefits

The problems are clear. The dental industry is huge and very fragmented, made up mostly of independent dental care practices. This makes it really difficult to innovate because there are no economies of scale or margins to accommodate ramping up new technology or learning new systems. However, brokers always want to have the best new benefits to offer, and employers also want exciting new benefits that employees will love. So Alex, who’s known to friends as “Fro,” and his co-founders focused on bringing innovation to dental insurance rather than to dental services from the outset.

Beam is the first and only digitally native dental insurance company. They focus on easy, smart, and preventive dental insurance solutions. Fro took a minute to unpack this statement for us: 

Easy means a digital, automated, and frictionless experience from quoting, implementation and enrollment, to administration, claims processing and customer support. Smart means providing custom pricing to groups with machine-learning models that allow them to be more confident about pricing for a specific group. The advantage of this is that they can offer lower rates where possible and provide a smoother renewal process. 

Preventive is a focus with their connected toothbrush and their dental wellness program. Beam’s connected toothbrush gives employees credit for building good habits and that ends up mitigating the group’s dental risk. The insurance product and the wellness program work together to offer discounts at renewal for teams with healthy dental practices. Increasingly, the wellness program is going to be a platform for new products and services. Listen to the episode to hear more about Beam’s exciting plans for 2021.

Bringing a new benefit to market

When Fro and his team first brought Beam’s dental insurance plan to market, they received a lot of feedback from brokers that the risk was not worth the reward of working with a young insurance company. They needed to go back and get the basics right, supporting all the common enrollment edge cases and billing processes that employers need to fall in love with a benefit program.

Since then, the team has worked hard to not only check all the boxes for how a benefit needs to operate for brokers and employers, but they’ve been able to innovate on top of that foundation of operational excellence. This has been the winning combination.

“Brokers are so excited about innovation that doesn’t force them to compromise on a great base benefits experience for their clients.”

The barriers to innovation in insurance

One of the reasons we don’t often see innovation in insurance produces is because of a couple of big endemic challenges in the industry. Regulation is a huge barrier to innovation because insurance isn’t regulated at the federal level. This means you have fifty departments of insurance to negotiate with at the state level to scale a new insurance product across the U.S. 

Technology is another challenge. There’s a lot of technology needed to just administer an insurance product and to give brokers, employers, and members access to administer the policy and manage their coverage. On top of this, partnering with outside technology from agencies and benefits administration platforms can be essential for operating with a given group. This requires a lot of costly customization. Over time, Beam has been able to grow by making smart investments in automation and by integrating with key partners.

Adapting dental benefits to COVID-19

As with most of healthcare, the coronavirus pandemic threw dental care for a loop in 2020 when 85% of all practices were basically closed, or offering emergency services only, from March through May. Fro and his leadership team in their monthly all-hands meetings have been complimenting their team for their resiliency and adaptability. 

“The number one skill of the 21st century for a professional is adaptability. Adaptability of your skills and how you work with different teams and different size companies or geographies, that’s an attractive quality for anyone who’s working today and COVID has only  accelerated that sentiment.” 

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Fro on the ways COVID is continuing to force innovation within both the dental industry and the employee benefits space. 

Fro’s resources

During the show, Fro recommended a book by Reed Hastings called No Rules Rules. It’s a continuation of a long discussion Netflix has been leading in the business world about how to create company culture that drives success. It really challenges a lot of cultural norms that companies unthinkingly perpetuate. No one has cornered the market on what “good culture” means—it’s different for every business. But for anyone who wants to spend more time contemplating their company culture and then intentionally designing the culture for a specific outcome, this book will help. 

Beam Dental is not affiliated with Brella Insurance Inc., and Brella does not offer dental insurance. You can check out what Beam is up to on their website at http://beam.dental

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #6: Helping Employees Journey Toward Financial Dignity with Anita Ward of Salary Finance

In this episode, we were honored to welcome as our guest Anita Ward, an applied anthropologist and Chief Development Officer of Salary Finance. Our conversation with Anita was about so much more than the financial wellness benefits that Salary Finance brings to their employer partners. We talked about Salary Finance’s social purpose and how their work is bringing financial literacy and financial dignity to millions of people.

“At work, poverty is a dirty little secret in America.”

Anita started by graciously sharing her emotional story of growing up without a home address. She got her first taste of financial empowerment from her first job at a McDonald’s in Las Vegas at just fifteen years old. Watching her parents struggle to find their financial footing, Anita knows firsthand the insecurity and taboo that surrounds families who experience financial hardship. Yet so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck–and 25% of them are making over $160,000 per year.

Financial dignity and financial literacy are basic human rights. We as a country—and definitely we as employers—need to provide people with that dignity… We’re all facing financial stress and we should all have the dignity to find that path [forward] and be willing to authentically share that path.

How Salary Finance helps employees journey toward financial dignity

Today, Anita and the team at Salary Finance are partnering with employers to help create inclusive programs that drive cultural change and bring employees along the spectrum toward financial dignity. To her, having financial dignity means employees have the agency to understand their finances and make smart financial decisions. Salary Finance provides tools and interventions that include financial coaching, tech-enabled financial tools, and salary-linked loans that can help individuals rebuild their credit. And they partner with employers for free.

“It’s one thing to educate people and provide financial literacy, but it’s an entirely different thing and much more impactful when you can remove the barriers to lending and saving.”

The cost of financial stress

According to their 2020 study, even before the coronavirus pandemic 42% of employees said that they were stressed because of their financial situation. 79% of employees say their stress level has worsened since the pandemic began. 42% of them don’t have savings to handle an unexpected expense, and 21% of employees borrowed from their retirement savings in 2020. This doesn’t put employees in a position to be financial resilient when unexpected expenses or a loss of income happens.

While Anita subscribes to the late Tony Hsieh’s belief that there are certain things we should do even without a measurable ROI, the cost of financial stress and the ROI on mitigating that stress for corporate employers is crystal clear. 

Financially stressed employees lose an average of 3 hours a week on the job worrying about money. They have an increase in sick days. They are 9 times more likely to produce lower quality work and they’re 10x more likely not to be able to finish their daily tasks. They’re 7.7x more likely to have difficulty getting along with colleagues. They’re also 2x more likely to be looking for a new job and they’re 7x more likely to be depressed. 

A closer look at Salary Finance’s program

The journey starts with an interactive Financial Fitness Score. The assessment helps employees know where they stand on the spectrum from struggling to prospering. They have access to financial coaches, educational curriculum, as well as tools to build savings.

Employees also have the opportunity to borrow against their salary with attractive interest rates (from 5.9% up to to 19.9% annual percentage rate) that often aren’t available to borrowers with subprime credit. By taking loan payments directly from the employee’s paycheck, Salary Finance mitigates their risk, allowing them to be much more inclusive in their lending. As a bonus, Salary Finance reports these regular payments to the credit bureaus, which helps the borrower improve their credit score. 

In a Harvard study on the efficacy of Salary Finance’s program, they found that employers experienced a 28% boost in retention and 11% growth to the bottom line as employees became both more productive and more loyal to the company.   

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Anita on the societal implications of their work.

Anita’s resources

During the show, Anita recommended a new book by Raj Sisodia called The Healing Organization. Anita resonates with his thesis that business is about alleviating suffering and elevating joy. After experiencing her own “sacred moment” in the face of a health complication that threatened her life, Anita became determined to make a difference in some of the ways that Raj discusses in his book. 

Don’t forget to check out the resources available from Salary Finance, including their most recent Annual Survey and their report on Financial Stress in the time of COVID-19.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #5: The Blueprint for High-Performance Health Benefits with Dave Chase of Health Rosetta

For our fifth episode, we’re joined by Dave Chase, the founder of Health Rosetta, an organization that promotes proven principles for building high-performance health benefits that cost a lot less than what you might be paying today.

Dave starts by sharing how, after grieving the loss of several friends, he discovered his calling to help change health benefits for the better so that families have affordable access to quality care. Since then he’s done just that for thousands of businesses and their teams through his work at Health Rosetta and their network of benefit advisors. 

Listen in as Dave shares his proven blueprint for high performance health-benefits. He also shares the stunning outcomes businesses all over the U.S. are discovering once they adopt Health Rosetta’s mindset and practices. 

High-performance health benefits aren’t expensive

On the Better Benefits podcast, we’ve spent weeks talking about the high cost of health benefits and the rising cost of the health care service underneath these insurance products. But Dave gives us a different perspective at the very beginning of our conversation. 

Healthcare’s actually not expensive. What’s expensive is profiteering, price gouging, administrative bloat, and outright fraud—and inappropriate treatment in some cases, like the opioid crisis. So the question is how do you do it? You just pay for good care. In fact, we would up the pay of a lot of the best high-value healthcare delivery organizations and individual clinicians.

It sounds simple, but how can businesses approach creating less expensive health benefits?

A new blueprint for high-performance health benefits

Just as the LEED organization created a playbook for environmentally friendly buildings and worked with professional architects, Health Rosetta’s health benefits blueprint was designed to help benefit advisors and their clients re-architect their employee health benefit programs. 

LEED’s guidelines didn’t make legacy buildings green overnight, and for good reason. They weren’t just advising putting out recycle bins in old buildings. Becoming LEED certified is a big change and an investment.

LEED’s practices gained popularity in local communities like Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Denver, and Austin—places that really valued taking care of the environment. Similarly, benefit advisors and their clients are catching on to Health Rosetta’s blueprint in local communities across the country that are tired of the high cost of traditional health benefits. 

The blueprint itself begins by creating a transparent relationship between benefits advisors and their clients. Once they’ve established that, the broker gets to work on building a solid foundation of access to quality primary care. From there, they layer on relationships with local hospital systems for more specialized care and pharmacy benefits with competitive prices on prescription medication. Lastly, they create access to other centers of excellence for highly specialized care, such as the Mayo Clinic. 

High-performance health benefits unlock social good

There’s no doubt that re-architecting your company’s health benefits requires an investment of time and energy to build a better set of local relationships with providers who can take care of your team’s health. But done right, the outcomes can be stunning. 

Dave shares the story of Rosen Hotels in the Orlando, FL area. The company redesigned their health benefits some years ago to give their team low cost access to top quality care. This move cumulatively saved $425M over the course of 25 years of success. By reinvesting just 5% of their savings into their local community, they were able to adopt a nearby crime-ridden neighborhood. They invested in kids and education by financing pre-school, daycare, after-school programs, and college tuition. As a result, crime went down 78%, high school graduation rates have gone up to nearly 100%, and Rosen’s team still has one of the best employee health benefits programs in the country. 

Pacific Steel is another company that took the cost of health benefits for 750 employees from $8M down to under $3.5M while benefits improved. As a result of these savings, they have been able to up their investment in their team’s retirement plans. Today, a forklift driver can retire with a 7-figure retirement lump sum. These are the things that become possible when you don’t squander money on overpriced health benefits.

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Dave on the mindset that’s holding employers back and how to overcome this mindset to embrace the changes that could transform your business and your community. 

Dave’s resources

If you’re interested in learning more about the Health Rosetta mindset and strategies to build high-performance health benefits, check out Dave’s books. He has kindly shared a link to his books at www.healthrosetta.org/friends where you can download his books for free (PDF) or find links to purchase at booksellers. During the podcast, we spoke about his latest book—Relocalizing Health: The Future of Health Care is Local, Open, and Independent as well as his earlier book—The CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream.

Other titles that have had a big impact on Dave and his leadership include:

  • The Price We Pay by Marty Makary, which outlines the challenges in healthcare
  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, for inspiration on navigating life’s challenges with the wisdom of the ancient Stoics 

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #4: 2021 Trends in Group Benefits with Dick Mucci

For our fourth episode, we sat down with Dick Mucci, former Lincoln Financial Group Protection President, to talk about the dynamics employers are facing with group benefits as we move into 2021. In this wide-ranging conversation, we covered both where group benefits have been historically and where they need to go in 2021 in light of changing employee needs. 

The problems we face in group benefits

We started by asking Dick why he joined Brella’s corporate advisor board. He gave a really concise summary of the challenges and the urgent needs we face together as insurance companies, benefits advisors, and employers when it comes to protecting employees. 

“There is a crying need for insurance coverage for rank and file Americans… I’ve seen too many situations where a family suffers a premature death or someone gets sick or hurt and families suffer, people lose their homes, kids don’t get educated, and we as Americans tend to sweep that under the rug. We don’t pay attention to it until it’s too late. So our mission as an industry is to do a better job of providing protection to Americans first by having them understand the risk and the options they have, and to deliver those options in a very efficient way that’s customer satisfying. Brella is a company that’s making inroads with that type of thinking.”

It’s not enough simply to design better group benefits, they need to be communicated clearly and deliver benefits efficiently. Dick cites Brella’s simpler claims workflow and fast payments as one example of what this looks like.

The history of group benefits

Group benefits first became prevalent in the U.S. after WWII as employers were looking to attract and retain the best employees. Employees at that time didn’t have much choice, but these benefits were appreciated and it’s become embedded in our culture in the U.S. more so than in other countries around the world.

When Dick joined the insurance business in the mid 1970’s, healthcare costs started to increase. Over the years as costs continued to rise, premiums rose, which lead to higher deductibles and increased cost sharing to the point that employers couldn’t afford to cover all the premiums and employees had to contribute more. To keep their benefits package attractive, employers added a wider variety of benefits like dental and life insurance, which were well received. 

Over the years, employees became more focused on their benefits. Not only were there complex choices they needed to make to elect their benefits, but also they were increasingly responsible for sharing the cost of these benefits with their employer.

Where will group benefits go in 2021 and beyond? 

With the high cost of healthcare comes huge risks for the average American family. Group Benefits are in a position to protect those families if insurance companies, brokers, and employers embrace products that offer the protection today’s employees need. Here are the trends Dick sees driving necessary change in 2021 and beyond.

Trend #1: Changing demographics are driving a need for diverse benefit offerings.

Today’s employees have a wide variety of family structures and they’re retiring later. Employees may be childless and unmarried. They may be Gen-X, Y, or Z. They may be caring for kids and aging parents. These dynamics create a wider variety of needs when it comes to employee benefits than we’ve ever seen before, both in terms of the plans themselves, and how to communicate with those employees about their coverage. 

“We need to have more tailoring of insurance programs to better meet the diverse needs of the consumer.”  

Trend #2: Consumers want guidance.

With the plethora of choices available and the option to customize benefits to their needs, this creates a huge need for employee education and guidance. Given the tremendous health crisis we’re facing in our country, consumers are more aware of their risk than ever before—health risk, life risk, unable to work risk—so they’re looking for someone to help them sort that out. 

In research he conducted, Dick saw firsthand that employees who are worried about their financial situation are more stressed, more likely to be absent from work, and less productive overall. This is a huge motivation for employers to keep their benefit programs up to speed with the current needs so that employees can do their best work.

Trend #3: Employers need guidance.

In light of the diversity of products, and the heightened level of risk, the role of the broker has become more important than ever. At the beginning of the pandemic, many employers hesitated to make changes to their benefit offerings, but there’s an opportunity now to bring on new benefits, even through off-cycle enrollments to meet employee’s concerns. 

Listen to the full episode to hear Dick’s recommendations of new products brokers should be looking at in 2021. 

Dick’s leadership resources

If you’re going to lead a group of people, leadership traits are really important, so Dick has studied leadership for years as he grew as a manager of global insurance businesses. While he recommends reading about any leader who’s gone through stressful situations, he especially recommends: 

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #3: Dramatically Reduce your Health Benefit Costs with Josh Butler

For our third episode, we sat down with Josh Butler, President of Butler Benefits, a leading benefits advisory firm in Amarillo, TX. Josh was kind enough to share the mindset and road-tested strategies he’s using with his clients to deliver dramatically lower healthcare costs—an impressive feat in a time when health insurance premiums and deductibles seem to be perpetually on the rise. 

The secret to lowering your health benefit costs

It all starts, Josh says, with having an advisor, or being an advisor, who is bringing creative solutions. A recent client came to Butler Benefits facing a 46% annual rate increase in their health benefits. Josh and his team spent a few days looking over the group’s situation and came back with a solution that cut that down to only a 2% increase in premiums. How did they do it? They weren’t afraid to fire a major insurance company and partner with smaller, more collaborative partners in the community who are willing to compete for his client’s health benefits dollars.  

Josh is quick to mention that these aren’t all proprietary ideas unique to Butler Benefits. A lifelong learner, Josh has crowdsourced strategies from other broker advisors through the Health Rosetta network to bring the best solutions possible to his clients. 

The challenges that hold employers and brokers back

Fear of change and perceived switching costs tend to stand in the way, but ultimately those costs pay off if you’re able to truly deliver a superior health benefits package that saves an employer money. In the beginning, it’s twice as much work for half the money when you look at totally restructuring the healthcare supply chain. But for many employers, this brings massive savings, and when employers see how much lower the costs can be, they become motivated enough to insist on making a change. It’s a big reason why Butler Benefits is renewing so much business this year.

Josh brings his clients some tough love as he helps educate them to the point that they’re willing to make a change. 

Josh says:   

“I’m not blaming you for doing it the way you’ve always done it all these years. You didn’t know any better. But now you know. Now you’re responsible. Now what are you going to do about it? Are you gonna keep doing it the old way? Or are you going to put that aside because you see how bad it is, how many people it’s hurting in this country, and go do something different? We just challenge people that way. What are you gonna do? Are we gonna be part of the problem or are we gonna be part of the solution? And that’s just a choice people gotta make.” 

Tune in to the full episode to hear more from Josh, including how he managed to erase $1.3M in medical debt for 730 people in Amarillo, TX.

We know you’re going to feel truly inspired after this time spent with Josh. To connect with him, visit http://butler-benefits.com.  And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #2: Building a Better Health Benefits Strategy

For our second episode, Brella board member and former Segment President of Humana, Beth Bierbower, joins us to talk about the challenges and opportunities in 2021 for your health benefits strategy. She also shares some learnings she’s gathered through her guests on her popular podcast, B-Time

The structural challenges in health benefits

It’s no secret that healthcare and health benefits is a challenging space. Costs have accelerated dramatically over the past 25 years. That’s why we built Brella.

What are the drivers of these rapidly accelerating costs? Beth points us to misaligned incentives and fee-for-service pricing models that lack transparency. These are only two structural reasons, among many, why costs have risen so much over the past couple of decades. 

3 reasons for hope

In Beth’s view, there are good reasons to hope that change is both possible and well on its way. For example, recent legislation that allows consumers to own their medical data supports interoperability. Now you to bring your records with you to new providers, avoiding expensive repeat testing. 

Price transparency will also help consumers do more shopping when it comes to getting certain kinds of tests. With a little legwork, Beth was able to save $2500 on a test her doctor prescribed just by shopping around at different facilities. 

New benefits that provide better coverage and make it easy for employees to understand and use their plans are another reason to be optimistic about the future of employer-sponsored health benefits. 

How employers and their brokers should be thinking about health benefits strategy 

It can be easy to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done, but the focus should be on the employee and what’s changing for them. COVID-19 has obviously brought a lot of disruption, and behavioral and mental health benefits are just one example of a huge and growing need. Second, employers and brokers need to be bold enough to embrace change. It takes more work, but as the horizon changes, this will become increasingly important. 

For anyone interested in boost coverage and bring down costs, Mike recently posted 3 health benefit strategies for employers to consider in 2021.

Anyone who knows Beth knows that she’s more than just an insurance executive. She’s a caretaker, a mom, a writer, and a mentor to hundreds of people who’ve worked with her over the years. Here’s Beth’s advice for anyone looking to grow in their career.

“Intellectual curiosity is really important. But don’t just look inside your industry; don’t just read business books. You want to be a well-balanced individual. You really want to know about what’s going on in the world around you, so don’t just focus on your immediate job or your immediate industry.“

– Beth Bierbower

Beth’s book recommendations for personal and professional growth: 

Tune in to the full episode to hear more from Beth, including the formula she uses to prioritize her time to maximize meaning for her family, her career, and her own personal well being. 
We know you’re going to get a lot out of this time spent with Beth. To connect with her, visit https://bethbierbower.com.  And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com.

Listen to the full episode for more:

Are you following Better Benefits?

Future guests include former President of Group Protection Business at Lincoln Financial, Dick MucciDave Chase of Health Rosetta, and more!

You can follow Better Benefits on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify. If you liked the episode, give us a rating on your favorite podcast platform and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode! Stay tuned…

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #1: How to Build a Better Benefit

At Brella, we’re on a mission to build a world where health hardships don’t create financial burdens. Fortunately, a lot of good people beyond our company are also working toward this goal using employee benefits. We’re building a better supplemental health plan, but exciting new things are happening in major medical, dental, HSA’s, and other products all across the industry. We thought it was time for an employee benefits podcast to host conversations about what we can do together to ease the financial burden of health issues.

Better Benefits is a new employee benefits podcast for employers, benefits advisors, brokers, and insurance experts who are ready to do things differently to help bring down costs for employers, employees, and their families.

In our inaugural episode, listen as our founding team shares how we built our revolutionary supplemental health insurance plan. You’ll also get a preview of what’s in store for the Better Benefits podcast.

Listen to Better Benefits Episode 1: Why Better Benefits

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #1 Show Notes

Maxwell Health founder, Veer Gidwaney, spent over a decade thinking about how to make benefits and insurance simpler for employers and their teams. Despite Maxwell Health’s success, something still wasn’t working. 

Employer-sponsored benefits are still the primary way American families cover the cost of healthcare. Yet, half of Americans today fear medical-related bankruptcy, and health insurance deductibles are at an all time high. Traditional supplemental plans only cover narrow groups of serious illnesses, and they have covered-accident or hospital admission requirements that limit their benefits. 

As a result, too many employees with insurance run the risk of having to pay large out-of-pocket medical bills the first time they have a health issue every year. Too often, these bills exceed their savings, leading to financial hardship. 

That’s when Veer founded Brella and was introduced to Amanda Turcotte, who became our Chief Insurance Officer. Together, they set out to build a better benefit that could help ease the financial burden that too often comes along when health hardship strikes. 

It started in the fall of 2019 with a 6:30am text message.

An early bird herself, Amanda was more than happy to talk to Veer about designing a better supplemental benefit.

Amanda brought years of experience underwriting and designing new insurance products for major insurers like Guardian, Chubb, and AXA. More recently, she was a partner at a startup and owned her own consulting company in which she practiced human-centered design to better understand consumer problems. 

Armed with research and plenty of personal experience with her own family, Amanda set out to design a new kind of supplemental plan that would cover the vast majority of reasons someone would need urgent medical attention, from moderate conditions like pneumonia to catastrophic conditions like cancer. The new plan also allows employees to personalize their coverage to suit their family’s age, health plan and budget.

Then COVID-19 struck 

After designing the plan in 2019 and submitting it to the Texas Department of Insurance, COVID-19 sent communities all over the world into lockdown. Although we designed the plan before we knew about the novel coronavirus, Brella covers many common complications of the disease, including pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, and sepsis. Brella is the only supplemental plan that can help ease the financial burden of complications of COVID-19 with no hospital admission requirement. 

In this episode, Veer and Amanda share the highs and lows of building an insurance product from the ground up. They also reveal their best leadership advice for managing change and asking for what you want. 

We ask all our guests to share a resource or book that had a profound impact on them either personally or professionally. Amanda recommends Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock, which is being re-released in early 2021.

We hope you’ll join us

Future guests include former Segment President at Humana, Beth Bierbower, former President of Group Protection Business at Lincoln Financial, Dick Mucci, and Dave Chase of Health Rosetta.

You can follow Better Benefits on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. If you liked the episode, give us a rating on your favorite podcast platform and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode! Stay tuned!

3 Strategies for Employers to Supercharge Health Benefits for 2021

by Mike Zarrillo, Chief Revenue Officer, Brella Insurance

Half of Americans now fear a health-related bankruptcy, including employees with employer-sponsored health insurance. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is driving health insurance rate increases for 2021 as insurers struggle to predict whether we’ll see a second wave of infections and whether care deferred in 2020 will drive up utilization in 2021.

In light of these realities, employers need new benefit solutions that both ease employees’ fears and help their business cope with the rising cost of employee benefits. This is exactly why we reinvented supplemental health insurance at Brella.

Brella is a new breed of supplemental insurance that covers 13,000+ medical conditions, including many complications of COVID-19. We make it easy for employees to file a claim and once approved receive a cash payout in as little as 72 hours. While traditional voluntary options cover narrow groups of conditions, we eliminate the guesswork by giving employees the peace of mind that comes with broad coverage in one plan.

Launch

But what about the second challenge? How can employers cope with the rising cost of health benefits?

After hundreds of conversations with brokers and employers leading up to our launch in Texas, three strategies are gaining traction with HR benefit leaders and their broker advisors.

1. Implement a supplemental plan that truly complements the health plan strategy

You’re probably thinking this isn’t a new strategy. You’re right. But it’s never been more clear that brokers and employers appreciate the flexibility and cost-savings that a supplemental plan can unlock when it comes to the overall health plan strategy. It’s also no secret that with a sound supplemental health option, employees are far more comfortable choosing higher deductible health plans with lower premiums knowing they have added protection in the event of an unexpected sickness or injury.

So what’s standing in the way?

Traditional voluntary benefits like accident, critical illness or hospital indemnity are simply too narrow in their design to provide the broad supplemental coverage needed to unlock real value. To reap the financial savings of a higher deductible or out-of-pocket maximum, employers need a supplemental plan that covers more than just an accident or a critical illness. Medical issues come in all shapes and sizes and many fall through the cracks with old-school supplemental offerings.

Brella was built to be an extension of the health plan. With over 13,000 covered conditions in one product, brokers and employers have a supplemental solution that unlocks meaningful health plan design and funding flexibility.

2. Shift a portion of employer HSA dollars toward a supplemental health plan.

More and more employers are making contributions to employee HSA accounts with an average contribution of $768 for single coverage. However, this equates to only 17% of the typical employee out-of-pocket maximum1. So it begs the question, could a supplemental health plan stretch the employer dollar further for employees and their families in the event of an unexpected medical event?

Employer-funded supplemental health isn’t a new concept, but it’s a challenging one. First, there’s the difficult task of finding room in the employer’s budget. Second, there’s the guesswork needed to pick between distinct products like accident, critical illness or hospital indemnity insurance. Shifting a portion of the employer’s existing HSA spend solves for the budget concern, while installing a wide-ranging Brella plan eliminates the product guessing game.

Employers will appreciate that redirecting $300 of HSA contributions toward Brella’s premiums can turn into a $500 benefit for a broken wrist or $5,000 for a heart attack2 all in one plan. Plus, Brella’s broad insurance coverage provides the flexibility to use benefits in any way the employee chooses, with no annual limits or risk of not having enough funds.

3. Retire underutilized benefits to make room for a supplemental health plan.

Early signs seem to indicate that employers will face difficult choices when it comes to health plan design and cost-sharing considerations in 2021. As a result, many are opting to simplify their benefit packages to prioritize health coverage.

This is a good plan as employee retention has long been tied to health plan satisfaction. The upcoming year certainly has the makings of being one where employees will place greater value on the benefits that address their health insurance concerns and provide additional peace of mind.

Has there been a better time to think about rounding out health coverage for employees? Probably not. And although it may mean freeing up shelf space by retiring underutilized programs, a Brella supplemental plan gives employees more comprehensive health coverage during a time when fears are high and costs have never been higher.

  1. Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2019 Employer Health Benefits Survey.
    2. Note, these are the payout amounts for one of many Brella plan configurations. Actual benefit amounts may be higher or lower.

Why it’s smart to have supplemental health insurance

by Laura Cave | August 22, 2020

Too often all it takes is one unexpected injury or illness to drain a family’s bank account— even for people with health insurance. Where do all these costs come from? Here are just a few ways that financial hardship often follows health hardships, and why supplemental health insurance can be a smart supplement to your health benefits.

Health Insurance Cost-sharing

The average employee health plan today has a $1600+ deductible for single coverage, and deductibles for families are much higher. You can expect to pay cash for medical care until you reach your deductible, and if there is a separate pharmacy deductible, it could leave you on the hook for costly medications before your coverage kicks in.

After your deductible, you’ll share the cost of your care with the insurance company by paying co-pays or co-insurance, which is a % of the medical bill. When you reach your out-of-pocket max, which is $3,000 or more for most people, you’ll typically be covered for the rest of the year, but look out for limitations on coverage, especially for services like physical therapy.

Denied health insurance claims

Increasingly, health plans may not cover care that happens outside their network of healthcare providers. Experimental and alternative treatments often are not covered as well. You may also see claims denied for not following rules that require prior authorization, proof of medical necessity, or step therapy that shows you’ve failed to find relief with less expensive treatments.

Everyday expenses

Almost everyone has some exposure to medical bills, and pre-tax health savings accounts (HSA) can help cover those costs. But what your HSA dollars can’t cover is other expenses that happen because you’re out of commission with an injury or illness.

What would happen if you weren’t able to do all the things you normally handle in your household? Who will watch the kids, walk the dog, mow the lawn, and put dinner on the table every night? How would you get to and from doctor appointments? Would your absence from work mean a loss of income?

Health insurance doesn’t cover these kinds of costs, and you can’t use health savings account funds to cover them either.

What’s so smart about supplemental?

Supplemental health insurance is designed to provide financial support when costs like the above add financial strain to a health hardship.

The problem has been that, historically, supplemental plans have only covered narrow groups of conditions, so you’d have to buy as many as 4 plans to get comprehensive coverage. Brella’s simple supplemental plan is different. It covers 13,000+ conditions, including an option to cover chronic diseases and mental health, and you can personalize your payouts to get the level of financial support you need.

If you’re diagnosed with a covered condition, use our app to submit a claim in minutes and, once approved, get paid in hours—not weeks. Use it to pay for anything you need on the road to recovery from medical bills to groceries and childcare.

In short, a supplemental plan like Brella is smart because it compliments your benefits to cover costs that other plans miss.

Brella Announces Launch in Texas with $7M+ Funding

NEW YORK, August 10, 2020 / PRNewsire / — Brella Insurance, Inc. announced it has launched a modern supplemental health insurance plan for Texas-based employers and their teams. The company also announced its new name, Brella, and that it has raised an additional $1.5M from new investors, bringing their total funding to over $7M.

“Brella covers more conditions than any other supplemental health plan on the market, so we took the opportunity to choose a brand name that evokes the wide-ranging coverage we’re excited to bring to Texas,” said Founder and CEO, Veer Gidwaney. “We’re also excited to welcome a few new investors who bring a wealth of industry experience as we build Brella into a company that ensures health hardships don’t lead to financial hardship.”

Even with health insurance, millions of Americans face financial burdens associated with unexpected medical events, and traditional products like critical illness, hospital indemnity, and accident insurance are simply too narrow in their scope of coverage to be truly supplemental.

That’s where Brella comes in. Brella is a supplemental health insurance plan that pays cash if you’re diagnosed with any of 13,000+ covered conditions—many of which are common complications of COVID-19. Brella aims to make it easy for employers to enhance their employee benefits with a simple supplemental plan that covers more and truly complements their health insurance.

Brella’s new investors include Digitalis, Operator Partners—the investment group that includes Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner of Flatiron Health—as well as angel investor Ron Bouganim. They join Brella’s existing investors, Two Sigma Ventures, Founder Collective, SymphonyAI, and RGAx, among others.

Founded in 2019 by Veer Gidwaney, former CEO and co-founder of Maxwell Health, Brella has partnered with RGAx and Greenhouse Life Insurance Company, subsidiaries of Reinsurance Group of America (RGA), one of the largest global life and health reinsurance companies, to bring this unique solution to the employee benefits market.

The company is actively engaging brokers and employers in Texas. To learn more and get in touch, visit joinbrella.com or email sales@joinbrella.com.

About Brella

Founded in 2019, Brella is modernizing supplemental health benefits to build a world where health hardship doesn’t mean financial hardship. Brella’s simple supplemental plan covers 13,000+ conditions and pays cash on diagnosis that you can use for anything you need on the road to recovery. Learn more at joinbrella.com and follow @brellainsurance.