August 11, 2021
By: Zach Wallens
Build vs. Buy: The Case for Enhancing Carrier Connectivity to Improve Enrollment Experiences
By Zach Wallens, Communications Manager at Ideon
One-stop-shop HR and benefits administration (BenAdmin) platforms, which integrate all elements of the employee experience into a centralized system, are the future of the benefits industry. From health insurance and dental coverage to telehealth and gym memberships, those BenAdmins that offer the most-popular employee benefits on one platform will boast the best user experience and, as a result, a significant advantage over rivals. In fact, some forward-thinking BenAdmins are already preparing for this all-in-one future, laying a foundation to scale aggressively and add new benefits at a moment’s notice.
But this trend raises an important question: How, from a technical standpoint, will BenAdmins add all of these benefits products—from numerous insurance carriers and other providers—to their platforms?
The answer, as most BenAdmin executives know, is digital connectivity. BenAdmin platforms have long identified connectivity with carriers as a technological necessity—and competitive differentiator—for success in today’s digital-first age. Connectivity enables BenAdmins to present up-to-date product information, enroll employees in benefits digitally, and transfer group and employee-specific information to carriers and other providers. It is a pivotal component of any modern BenAdmin experience.
But while digital connectivity is universally accepted as integral to any tech-forward BenAdmin’s UX strategy, a consensus has yet to develop on the issue of building or buying a solution for developing and maintaining carrier connections. Many BenAdmins elected to utilize their existing technology team to build integrations to carrier systems because this was, until recently, their only option.
This go-it-alone “build” approach, however, has been technically and operationally challenging for BenAdmins. Establishing and sustaining relationships with hundreds of carriers and providers—each with unique systems and formats to which BenAdmins have had to conform—is a process that is both time-consuming and labor-intensive. Moreover, integrating to each carrier’s core systems, one by one, involves tremendous development resources.
These drawbacks are prompting many BenAdmins to consider a new digital connectivity strategy: the “buy” approach. Indeed, a growing number have determined that buying connectivity on a mass scale, through a carrier connectivity partner such as Ideon, is a more effective use of resources than building those bridges themselves.
In this scenario, BenAdmins integrate with a single partner’s API, and it’s that partner’s responsibility to manage the connections and exchange of data—often in real time—with carriers and benefit providers.
These BenAdmins are outsourcing carrier connectivity to specialists in just that skill, resulting in massive efficiency gains, a quicker path to scalability, and better experiences for end users—employers, HR teams, and employees. Such forward-thinking benefits platforms have decided that it makes more business sense to invest in a turnkey solution that is built, managed and regularly improved by industry-specific digital connectivity experts than to devote time, money and labor to create multiple carrier integrations themselves.
Instead, these BenAdmins are taking the savings achieved from outsourcing connectivity and investing them in the development of improved experiences for their customers’ employees. Data-driven plan selection, personalized decision support, integrated telehealth services, and robust ancillary offerings are just a few of the tech-enabled experiences that employees expect from their BenAdmin. These are features that require ongoing iteration and improvement, and represent far better destinations for operational capital.
Buying is the new frontier of BenAdmin-to-Carrier connectivity, a forward-facing reallocation of resources that goes a long way towards enhancing their competitive advantage.