pronounced: “eye-dee-ahn”

Meet Brix — Now part of the Ideon ecosystem

At Ideon, we’re regularly expanding our network of carriers and technology platforms, from industry leaders with 100+ years of history to startups at the forefront of health and benefits innovation. We’re proud to introduce a new addition to the Ideon ecosystem: Brix, a group life insurance carrier offering affordable plans to small businesses.

In this video, John Flueckiger, Brix’s founder and CEO, shares the origin story of Brix, insights on their digital strategy, and how working with Ideon enables third-party platforms to quote Brix’s plans.

Here are three key takeaways from the video:

  • Brix offers an easy and inexpensive way for small businesses to provide life insurance coverage to their employees.
  • Through partnerships with other insurance providers, Brix offers employees the opportunity to enroll in additional life insurance coverage tailored to their individual needs.
  • Brix leverages technology and agile distribution to provide a seamless digital process for brokers and employers. And, by leveraging Ideon, Brix gains representation on some of the leading third-party quoting platforms for group benefits brokers.

To learn more about Brix, check out the video and visit Platforms interested in quoting Brix products via Ideon’s API can contact us, here.

API connectivity and the bentech ecosystem: A Q&A with Sun Life’s Ted Phillips

By Zach Wallens, Director of Content and Communications, Ideon

The HR and benefits technology (bentech) ecosystem has exploded in recent years, with billions in venture capital investment driving innovation and new players in the space.

That’s left insurance carriers with a strategic and technology challenge: how do we partner and connect with dozens of bentechs, ensuring brokers and members have a great experience across the platforms they use today?

Ted Phillips, Sun Life’s AVP, Distribution Digital Center of Excellence, tackles these challenges every day. Ideon spoke with Ted about Sun Life’s tech partnership strategy, the value of “enhanced” API connectivity, and their new partnership with Ideon.

 The below interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


IDEON: What’s your role at Sun Life?

TED PHILLIPS: I lead a team that’s responsible for the strategy and execution of our benefits technology (bentech) platform partnerships. We’re looking to create new partnerships, bring them to market, and grow premium through these relationships. Through Sun Life Link, we work with our accelerator team on building out API connectivity, and our data operations team, which takes the connectivity we build and operationalizes it.

Our ultimate objective is to make benefits easier to manage — to remove headaches that are often felt in managing ancillary products. We want to streamline benefits administration, billing, and everything in between.


How has your partnership strategy evolved recently?

We’ve transformed our partnership strategy for three reasons: First, there’s an expectation now—among members, brokers, and employers—that technology works seamlessly. It’s incumbent upon Sun Life to make sure the benefits experience is great for everyone and that we meet their expectations.

Second, technology has advanced quite dramatically over the past 2-3 years. APIs and enhanced connectivity are the hot topics of today. Most of the bentech ecosystem are working toward some level of enhanced API connectivity.

Third, the bentech ecosystem is far more complex and nuanced than a few years ago. Before, there were benefits administration platforms (BenAdmins), but now there are many more layers and segments within our ecosystem: HCM, proposal tools, quote-to-enroll, broker tech, resellers, and more.


What does that complexity mean for your team?

In 2019, the global investment in HR tech was $5B. In 2020, it was $17B. What that creates is a whole host of companies that are extremely valuable, like Ideon, and others that are just getting their idea off the ground. For us, the challenge is making the right decisions on which bentech platforms to partner with.

We’re always evaluating two things: which segments of the ecosystem do we want to work with, and how can we connect with them? Sun Life can’t take in every connection request we receive from bentech platforms. Middleware like Ideon allows us to multiply our team’s impact by increasing the number of platforms we can connect to.


Sun Life recently partnered with Ideon to enhance your data exchange capabilities with bentech platforms. How does better connectivity affect your clients?

It’s all about making benefits easier. APIs and enhanced connectivity enable us to streamline eligibility, benefits administration, enrollment, etc., and that saves hundreds of hours for our brokers and clients.

We find that when employer groups are on platforms, especially those with which we have enhanced connections, they have access to more Sun Life products and better benefits education experiences.  Also, with better connectivity, the enrollment and administration process is faster and more accurate, leading to fewer claims and billing issues.


Let’s talk more about that. How do APIs improve data accuracy?

Technology, including APIs and enhanced connectivity, allows us to identify errors and correct them before they become significant client issues.

It starts with making sure benefits products are set up correctly on platforms. We then use APIs to ensure enrollment eligibility is completed quickly and accurately, to make sure benefits are available when they’re needed.

As enhanced connectivity becomes commonplace, there will be tremendous value in having more accurate data connections. It’s not just about speed — accuracy is just as important.


Does this help Sun Life’s operational team, too?

Absolutely, there’s a big impact on carriers. The Ideon system creates better data accuracy — which may equate to fewer support calls, fewer billing issues, and fewer claim issues. That can have a huge effect on the industry: we’ll all be much better off if we aren’t using paper and email to solve and reconcile these data errors. With better connectivity, they might not be issues at all.


We’ve talked a lot about carrier-bentech partnerships. How else is the industry working together?

There’s beginning to be a collaborative mentality in the benefits industry. Data accuracy and data exchange are industry-wide challenges, and neither will be solved by one carrier alone.

LIMRA is a great example of industry participants and even competitors working together to solve these challenges. There’s a mentality amongst a group of individuals that we need to fix this as an industry. If we do, everyone will be better for it.


Final question: Besides API connectivity, in what other areas is Sun Life investing in technology?

Sun Life is, first and foremost, an insurance company. But we have developed proprietary technology that provides a modern client experience. Sun Life Onboard, for example, is a digitally enhanced onboarding experience. Our Benefits Explorer tool helps educate members on benefits pre-enrollment and throughout the client lifecycle.

But it’s a balance. We also need to be where our clients are. As we’ve talked about, Sun Life has invested significantly in API-powered partnerships with bentechs in the market. Ideon is a big part of that.

We don’t think of these as separate buckets — in-house vs. external investment. We look at it holistically and invest accordingly. Ultimately, we want to make benefits easier to enroll, manage, and administer, on platforms and throughout the benefits ecosystem. We do it by developing technology and through partnerships with companies like Ideon.


Interested in learning more about Ideon? Check out our API middleware solution, connect with our sales team, or subscribe to our newsletter.

Benelinx’s Story: Using Ideon to seamlessly provide brokers with data from multiple carriers

“Ideon cleans up the big mess the industry has built”

With the agency management software Benelinx, employee benefits brokers access health insurance quotes from multiple carriers in a flash. The company was started by Rachel Zeman, who formerly ran a brokerage and was frustrated with the redundancies and errors that were par for the course in the space.

Here’s how she describes the traditional, broken model:

Most agencies are still running their entire business on Excel spreadsheets. If they want to make a proposal for clients, they have to go to the websites of four, five, six carriers, and upload the employee census to each, then download a quote. Then they have to compare them because every carrier’s rates and requirements are different. The only practical alternative they had was to work with a general agent that had relationships with multiple carriers, but as brokers get larger they often want to bring more in-house.

In contrast, when using Benelinx’s quoting engine, brokers have to enter a client’s parameters just once to quote and compare medical plans from numerous carriers. 

Backstage, Ideon’s APIs quietly power Benelinx’s quoting tool through seamless data exchange. (We’re the strong, silent type.) 

Read our case study to learn how Ideon helps Benelinx give brokers the data they need.


PerfectQuote’s Story: How Ideon’s data powers the company’s small-goup quoting tool for brokers

“Ideon does all the heavy lifting—cleansing, filtering, refining all that data from carriers—and then they output a single, consistent data format that’s really easy for us to consume”

PerfectQuote is a SaaS solution for employee benefits brokers and agents, founded in 2017 on the hypothesis that there had to be an alternative to the manual spreadsheeting of benefits and rates. And indeed there was. With PerfectQuote’s software, benefits brokers in the large group space can now quote, analyze, compare, and present plans from carriers in all 50 states.

But what of the small-group space, you ask?

It’s a question PerfectQuote asked, too. Aaron Snyder, president and co-founder, shared the thought process as follows:

One of our main differentiators is that we support the large-group portion of a broker’s book of business, with plan and rate data that we get directly from carriers through broker proposals. But on the small-group side, which involves many more carriers, we didn’t have a solution that could support a broker’s entire book of business. So, like any nimble start-up, we developed our small group module and quickly figured out that Ideon could be a single source of truth for small group data, and eliminate some of the friction we experience within the other side of the platform.

Powered by Ideon, PerfectQuote now offers one of the industry’s leading small group quoting experiences. Want an inside look at how PerfectQuote expanded its platform? Download the case study here.


Reclaim’s Story: How Ideon’s APIs saved time and reduced risk

“I think of Ideon as infrastructure-as-a-service”

Reclaim helps individuals and families manage their healthcare bills by providing a bevy of insurance-related services. The company’s app allows users to access bills, learn how they might offset costs, discover how they might have received more cost-effective service elsewhere, and more.

 Reclaim is out to simplify the insurance experience for the consumer—but they were also eager to simplify their own internal operations.

Enter Ideon’s API, an accurate and comprehensive source for provider-network data—information on which doctors and facilities participate in each insurance network.

Before Ideon we were getting data from carriers, but each one’s schema is different. That makes the ETL [extract, transform, load] process difficult because we were doing several data manipulations per carrier. Now it’s just one schema that we have to worry about—Ideon’s. 

Using Ideon also means we don’t have to worry about delays. It’s derisking for us.

So says Reclaim’s co-founder and CEO, Nataly Youssef. Interested in hearing the whole story? Download our case study here.


Decisely’s Story: Increasing efficiency, scalability, and data accuracy with Ideon’s API

“When data is in sync, everybody wins”

We recently solved a problem for a benefits administration platform. 

It was a pretty big one, and we’re quite pleased with the solution we came up with. In fact, we think the story of what we did might be helpful to other platforms in the health insurance and employee benefits industry, which is why we published a case study with the details.

Take a peek:

With easy-to-use brokerage and technology solutions, Decisely provides a simple way for small businesses to handle their employee benefits. By 2021, however, Decisely ran into an industry-wide challenge that threatened its ability to deliver a seamless benefits experience. 

The problem involved communicating group- and employee-enrollment data to health insurance carriers and other benefits providers. Every carrier wanted this information delivered differently. Some needed PDF forms filled out and emailed. Others required Decisely to enter each employee’s information into a web portal. Still others allowed the company to send group and member information using electronic data interchange (EDI), but even that involved unique formats and file requirements.

These data-exchange challenges are common throughout the benefits ecosystem, creating inefficiencies and limiting scalability for HR and benefits platforms like Decisely.

“Every carrier has its own flavor of EDI with its own nuances,” says Gerald Nichols, Decisely’s Vice-President of product management. “Our biggest issues were getting everything done right, the same way, every time. We decided that if we were to grow with the speed and scale we planned, we would need to find a way to handle enrollments consistently.”

Indeed, Decisely found a way to enroll groups faster and more accurately than ever before—while maximizing their existing operational resources.

The challenges Decisely faced are all too familiar to other benefits administration platforms.

Is your company one of them? Get the full case study here to learn how Ideon presented Decisely with a solution that revolutionized their operations and employee experience in the best way.


Gravie’s Story: How Ideon eliminated heaps of manual work and allowed for market expansion

“Partnering with Ideon makes us a scalable solution”

For nearly a decade, Gravie has been disrupting the health insurance space through its innovative health benefits solutions, from pre-tax individual market options to its own flagship health plan, Comfort.

Since 2018, Ideon has played an important role in streamlining Gravie’s processes. Nicole Lovaas, a vice president at Gravie, shared how things looked before Ideon came on the scene:

We used data we found on or from the Department of Commerce or other sources—for every state. It was very labor-intensive. We had to enter all the information we collected into Excel spreadsheets, which we then loaded into our system to display plan and rate data.

The folks at Gravie also knew that ICHRAs were going to be a big deal in 2020, and were eager to present themselves as a national solution. However, they were unenthusiastic about the multiplicity of sources that would need to be involved.

Want to learn how Gravie said sayonara to manual processes—and expanded their national reach? Get the case study here.


Green Leaf’s Story: How API-powered carrier connectivity delivered a better client experience

“Our benefits enrollment and administration experience is light years faster”

Green Leaf Payroll & Business Solutions helps its clients in the cannabis industry streamline a wide range of payroll and HR tasks, from securing bank accounts to providing access to a suite of benefits and HR technologies.

As Green Leaf expanded its benefits solution, there was one often-requested service that it was hard-pressed to address: connectivity between an employer’s benefits software and its insurance carriers.

Hear it from them:

“We were avoiding it like the plague,” says Tyler Priest, Green Leaf’s vice president for strategic accounts. “It would take eight to 12 weeks to build carrier connections, and something would always break. Then I’d have to devote employee time and energy to fixing it that should have gone to servicing clients.” It was simpler to have the employer or its insurance broker manually fill out forms to add or change coverage and send them to the carrier.

By the start of 2021, however, potential clients started demanding the speed, efficiency, and automation of electronic connections to their carriers. “If we didn’t offer a solution,” Priest says, “we ran the risk that clients would look elsewhere.”

Researching the options, Priest found an article explaining that EDI, the technology used to connect to carriers, was being replaced, in some cases, with APIs, a modern approach that is much faster, scalable, and more accurate. He contacted Ideon, a leader in API solutions for benefits platforms, to help Green Leaf enhance its carrier connectivity capabilities.

Wondering how it went?  (Hint: This story has a happy ending.)  Download the full case study here for all the details.


GetInsured’s Story: How Ideon saved the company time and resources—and boosted stakeholder confidence

“It’s a streamlined process when we’re working with a trusted, experienced data partner”

GetInsured powers state-based health insurance marketplaces by providing health insurance technology and customer service solutions for state governments. An important feature of the company’s offering is that consumers have the ability to shop for plans by healthcare provider, which helps individuals keep their doctors when enrolling in a new plan.

Back in the day, sourcing provider-network data was quite the headache. Says GetInsured’s director of product management, Archana Dekate:

Before Ideon we were getting our data directly from carriers or through other vendors. And each vendor had their own APIs and their own set of implementation procedures, which meant that we would have to modify our code every time to accept their data, then QA it, test it, and so on. It was time consuming; every product release would take anywhere from one to three months of setup time.

Thanks to Ideon, that’s all safely in the rearview mirror. To learn how partnering with Ideon helped GetInsured on multiple fronts, download our case study here.


‘Easy to use, Easy to buy’: A Q&A with Friday Health Plans

In the past decade, several health insurance carriers have entered the individual and employer-sponsored markets, bringing innovative products and consumer-first digital experiences in a bid to compete with legacy carriers. One such entry is Friday Health Plans, a Colorado-based company launched in 2015 to serve the individual and small group markets. As Friday has expanded from a single-state carrier to a rapidly growing multi-state firm with $186 million in venture capital funding, digital technology has been a driving force behind its growth. 

To learn more about the company’s growth strategy, Ideon spoke with Lisa Kwiecien, Friday’s director of channel development. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

IDEON: What is Friday’s key differentiator?

KWIECIEN: We create health plans that are good value, easy to buy, and easy to use. We always put the consumer first, which is apparent in our plan designs. 

How does technology help Friday compete against more established, national health plans?

Because we concentrate on individuals, families, and small groups, we have fewer plan designs, which means that our technology can be more focused and efficient. Tech helps make our plans easy to administer, straightforward to buy, and effortless to understand. That’s true for brokers, employers, and most especially consumers.

How so?

We’ve invested in technology across the company—in our app, in our telehealth function, in customer support. We’ve enhanced our ability to communicate with members, to help them access their ID cards digitally, to understand their deductibles and other plan details. They can also use our app to search for providers. We knew we had to be aligned with today’s consumer expectations generally.

Friday Health Plans recently started working with Ideon. Can you talk about that? 

We work with Ideon in two ways. We share our plan and rate information with Ideon, which then distributes that data to third-party quoting platforms used by brokers, employers, and consumers. And we use Ideon to connect with benefits platforms [e.g., Rippling, GoCo, Decisely, Sequoia, Gusto], which helps us streamline digital enrollment and member management. We know we have great products and competitive rates, but we wanted to make the enrollment process more efficient for small businesses and for brokers. We needed to improve connectivity with today’s benefits ecosystem.

Why is connectivity with respect to brokers so important? 

We pride ourselves on being a broker-friendly carrier. Many decisions by brokers are made because of convenience, so we want to make our products and technology as convenient as possible. We started to search for different ways that we can automate enrollment, because historically it’s been a super manual process to submit member and group enrollment information in the small group market. There’s a lot of back-and-forth. It’s inefficient. And often it still involves a lot of paper. Ideally, we want it so that brokers can digitally manage all transactions, submitting enrollments on their preferred platform so that we’re not working on different CSV files or PDFs, etc. 

Why does uniformity like that matter?

For us, receiving a consistent file format from all these platforms improves our efficiency and accuracy, enabling us to seamlessly process incoming enrollments and member changes. And when we minimize errors, everything happens faster, creating a streamlined process. Members get their ID cards sooner, brokers have fewer fires to put out. We’re always working to build a streamlined process that flows smoother than it does today.

Does having better digital connectivity with benefits platforms factor into Friday’s growth plans?

Absolutely. It’s about scalability. When we anticipate our expansion into new markets and new states, we want to make sure that we have the technology in place to scale effectively. Enhancing our connectivity with benefits administration platforms is a prerequisite for scaling our business. That’s one reason why we’re working with Ideon.

Final question: Friday, which is a member of the HRA Council, supports Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs). How do ICHRAs fit into your company’s strategy?

We’re always thinking about how to improve affordability and optionality to employers and employees. There are a lot of reasons why ICHRAs might appeal to a small employer—e.g., cost predictability, class options—and ICHRA gives an employee more plan choices through the individual market than does a traditional small-group offering. They’re also tax-free and transportable. Our CEO, Sal Gentile, sees ICHRAs as a growth opportunity as they become more prevalent in the next few years. 

Thanks so much for your time and candor, Lisa.

My pleasure.

To learn how benefits platforms can connect with Friday Health Plans, or for information about Ideon’s solutions for carriers, please reach out to