pronounced: “eye-dee-ahn”

Ideon Insights: Beam’s Elek Pew talks distribution strategy as a tech-focused carrier

Welcome to the second episode of Ideon Insights, our monthly interview series featuring thought leaders and innovators driving the benefits industry forward. In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Elek Pew, Head of Digital Partnerships at Beam Benefits, an ancillary benefits provider known for its innovation and digital-first approach.

In this Q&A, Elek provides insights into the evolution of the benefits technology ecosystem and the unique advantages that come with being a digitally native carrier. He also delves into how Ideon complements and enhances Beam’s digital distribution strategy, enabling seamless integration and collaboration within the industry.

For Elek’s complete thoughts on digital distribution, partnership strategy, and more, watch the video here.

Below we’ve highlighted six key moments from the conversation.


IDEON: How has the transformation of benefits technology informed your distribution strategy?

ELEK PEW: Technology is really at the forefront of everything today. Efficiency is king, especially in the small group market. We see that brokers care most about being really quick and efficient, so we pride ourselves on meeting those distributors where they are — whether that’s XYZ quoting or enrollment platform, or Beam’s own digital tools.

If they use a third-party system to quote business, we’ll find a way to integrate with that platform whether it’s through Ideon or directly. We’ll meet them where they are.


The benefits ecosystem is getting more complex. How do you choose the right partners?

There are a few things we think about when it comes to partnership strategy.

    • Do we potentially have access into a limited marketplace, where Beam is one of three or four benefits providers? 
    • What does the partner’s technology stack look like in terms of their ability to integrate? If a new partner comes to us and says, “we’re already integrated to Ideon” — that’s great for us. We know there’s not a ton of work to activate that new partner, compared to a net-new direct connection.
    • How do they think about API connectivity? Are we living in a file-based world? We’ll meet people where they are, but that’s definitely something we think about.
    • Are they willing to offer all of our product lines? Beam was historically a dental-first company, but now we’re focused on Beam as an ancillary benefits provider.


How does Ideon fit into your distribution strategy?

We definitely see the value in the partnership with Ideon from a middleware standpoint. As Beam has transitioned from Beam Dental to Beam Benefits — bringing on voluntary life, accident, hospital, and critical illness — our ability to turn those products on through one connection to multiple players in the ecosystem is game-changing. It’s a powerful thing that we want to continue to invest in.

We’ll connect to third-party platforms directly if that’s their preferred method, but we’ll meet folks where they are. Some will say, “we want to connect through Ideon,” and we’re more than happy to make that happen. It makes our jobs a lot easier knowing we have a trusted player in the middle, ensuring that our data is presented accurately and the data Beam gets back is in top fashion.


What are the advantages of being a newer, tech-focused benefits carrier?

Beam is well positioned in the market because, at our core, we’re a digitally native company. The idea of exposing our core functionality—enrollment, admin, quoting, etc.— and embedding our products into the benefits ecosystem really is inherent in how Beam has built core capabilities.

We’re able to go to market really quickly with new platform integrations because we’ve built our systems with the concept of exposability in mind. Now that the market is moving to third-party platforms, we’re well positioned to be able to connect and meet distributors where they are in the marketplace.


Why are rating APIs valuable for Beam and brokers?

Without a rating API, rates could only change once per quarter and it didn’t allow for customization — rates were prepackaged.

With a rating API like the one we’re building with Ideon, we’re able to take in real-time census information and generate a rate based on that specific employee population. We’re able to arrive at much sharper rates because we have more information about the group. It also enables our back office operations to be more efficient because we receive information about the group from that initial employee census.

With an API, we know it will only return rates and plans where Beam will 100% be able to offer the plan — rates are always bindable.


What’s a benefits technology trend you’re excited about over the next few years?

Instantaneous policy issuance — Beam is moving there, and I think the benefits industry overall will move that way, following in the footsteps of the P&C space. The group installation process is still painfully manual today.

The industry has made a lot of progress in terms of carriers accepting enrollment information from platforms and loading it into carrier systems, and we’re seeing instantaneous quoting making its way to the market with rating APIs. The next step is to bridge the gap between the two — take a quoted product, win it, turn it into a bindable policy, then have it ready for employees to enroll in coverage. That experience — quote to bind to enroll — we’re now seeing the foundation that will allow us to get there.

Stay tuned for new episodes of Ideon Insights each month. Subscribe to our newsletter below to stay in-the-know about Ideon and receive our latest content directly to your inbox.

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.

Shop-by-doc is now ‘must-have’ for leading InsurTech platforms

HMO or PPO? Copay vs. coinsurance? What’s the cost-sharing structure for out-of-network specialist visits, mental health services, and home health care? Shopping for a health insurance plan is a notoriously painful process — whether you’re seeking individual coverage, choosing between plans offered by your employer, or examining your Medicare Advantage options, it’s often difficult to identify the plan that best matches your specific requirements. And it’s certainly not getting any easier: more carriers are offering more plans than ever before.

Like modern shopping experiences in other industries, the bulk of health plan selection now occurs online, via digital health insurance exchanges of both the public and private variety. For these digital platforms, used by consumers, seniors, brokers, and businesses alike, it’s critical to deliver intuitive, data-driven user experiences that provide full transparency into the rates, cost-sharing, subsidy estimates, and other features of all available health plans. However, a robust plan library, side-by-side plan comparison, and a modern quoting interface are insufficient to meet the needs of today’s users.

Shop-By-Doctor: provider-centric plan selection

To many consumers, there is no more significant determinant than whether a plan offers in-network coverage of their preferred providers, hospitals, and facilities. This has become even more important in recent years, as out-of-pocket maximums have increased and high-deductible plans have gained prevalence. To avoid the potentially high cost of out-of-network care, most consumers begin their plan shopping process with one question: “Which plans cover my family’s doctors and our local hospitals?”

Multi-carrier digital platforms have made answering this question far simpler than when paper SBCs and carrier-specific portals ruled the plan selection and enrollment landscape. Today, many multi-carrier exchanges and state-based marketplaces have integrated shop-by-doc functionality — the ability to filter available plans to show only the options that cover users’ preferred doctors and providers — into the plan shopping process.

Offering shop-by-doc has material benefits. Consumers avoid out-of-network fees and purchase a plan based on what’s actually important to them. Ideon, currently powering shop-by-doc functionality on several leading private marketplaces and state-based exchanges, has found that about 70% of consumers shopping for health plans will add their providers as a search criterion. For health insurance platforms, shop-by-doc is no longer an optional feature — it’s an essential component of a modern, integrated, fully-digital plan shopping experience.

Integrating shop-by-doc functionality into the shopping experience

Despite shop-by-doc’s obvious benefits, there remain some holdouts among consumer and broker-facing platforms. Adding this functionality was, traditionally, a near-impossible endeavor. The industry lacked a centralized, standardized source of provider-network data from which platforms could power provider-centric plan shopping features. Acquiring this information, in a usable format, from hundreds of health insurance carriers was beyond their operational and resource constraints.

But that technical barrier no longer exists. Ideon has transformed shop-by-doc into a simple addition to any existing platform, by building APIs that enable platforms with quoting functionality to integrate shop-by-doc into their system, without acquiring and maintaining the underlying provider-network data. These APIs are a bridge to better user experiences, and, ultimately, better-informed health and financial decisions and a smoother enrollment process for all.

If you’re interested in delivering shop-by-doc functionality to your platform’s users, reach out to learn how Ideon’s data solutions enable tech companies to build robust decision support experiences.

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.


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.


APIs, decision support, and more: An employee benefits trend report in six quotes

Ideon’s place at the center of the health insurance and employee benefits industry means we have a clear view of the technology trends shaping the entire ecosystem. But we’re hardly the only ones talking about the growing importance of APIs, digital connectivity, and other transformative innovations.

Here are six trends ushering in the digital age of employee benefits, plus what industry leaders are saying about them.

The healthcare industry embraced interoperability. Employee benefits isn’t far behind.

“Interoperability has been a huge buzzword in the healthcare industry in the last few years, and we’re now seeing it in the employee benefits space for the first time. Data is siloed between various systems and the next wave of technological innovation will be focused on connecting these systems. Not only does it eliminate manual tasks and reduce errors, but it can unlock the ability to make better decisions and drive better outcomes for all.” — Ryan Sachtjen, ThreeFlow


Employees expect health insurance and benefits experiences to be as easy as online shopping.

“The goal is to make benefits-enrollment and selection changes take place in real time, replacing a traditionally manual, error-prone process with long wait times before coverage takes effect. Smart technology allows real-time data exchange with benefit carrier partners to simplify processes and improve the benefits experience.” — Amanda Pope, ADP


Decision support—which is growing in utilization—requires data connectivity and transparency. 

“The reality of decision support today is that the extent to which such tools can help users is greatly dependent on the quality and breadth of information they have to work with.” — Michael Levin, Ideon


Voluntary benefits—crucial in the fight for talent—depend on accurate, smooth-flowing data.

“Tailoring and recommending the benefit packages that best meet employee lifestyle needs eliminates the tedious employee task of sifting through voluntary benefit options. A data-driven approach to benefits can yield higher employee participation in benefits programs as well as improved employee tenure and retention.” — Neil Vaswani, Corestream


Efficient, API-powered connectivity is a game-changer for carriers.

“Overall, APIs are helping to provide a personalized experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Looking ahead, carriers can expose APIs to broker partners and insurtech companies, to transact uniquely, improve operating efficiencies, and enhance experiences. The carriers that are able to easily interact with these partners and play within this ecosystem will have an advantage.” — James Ocampo, Wellfleet Workplace


API middleware is enabling carriers and BenAdmin platforms to exchange data with remarkable speed, flexibility, accuracy, and scalability.

“Having a middleware partner allows our engineers to work on our product. I don’t have to build out a gigantic team to focus on each of the carriers. Middleware keeps our operating costs low, and brokers can trust our platform to enroll groups with a multitude of different carriers without our having to build out connections to each of them.” — Cory Nicks, Rippling


Interested in more Ideon content and the latest benefits technology trends and analysis? Subscribe to our newsletter below!


Vericred Releases Annual Map of ICHRA-friendly States

**NOTE: Ideon is the company formerly known as Vericred. Vericred began operating as Ideon on May 18, 2022.**

2022 ACA health plan data shows that in nearly half of U.S. states, an ICHRA could be a cost effective solution for small employers seeking to give employees more plan options

December 16, 2021 – Vericred, the API platform powering digital quote-to-card experiences in health insurance and benefits, today announced it has released its annual map of states where insurance premiums are most friendly to Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs). Employers who choose to offer an ICHRA provide a monthly, tax-free stipend that employees put toward the premium of a plan they choose from the individual market. 

The Vericred 2022 ICHRA Map shows the counties and states where an employee using an ICHRA would likely find Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual premiums equal to, or less expensive than, ACA small group plan premiums, i.e., “ICHRA-friendly.” For each state, Vericred calculated the difference between the average (across all counties) lowest-cost Bronze plan in the ACA small group and individual markets. 

Key findings from the Vericred 2022 ICHRA Map include:

  • Nearly half of the U.S. is ICHRA-friendly — in 24 states, 2022 individual Bronze plan premiums are equal to or less expensive than small group plan premiums
  • The number of ICHRA-friendly states grew by 26% since 2021, when 19 states were considered ICHRA-friendly. In 2020, only 16 states were ICHRA-friendly 
  • The top five ICHRA-friendly states, are, in order, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Mississippi
  • The five least ICHRA-friendly states, which have a market where premiums in the ACA individual market are most expensive compared with the ACA small group market, are, in order, Alabama, Oklahoma, Illinois, Tennessee and West Virginia
  • Some states have flipped – Maryland was ICHRA-friendly last year, and is now not ICHRA-friendly. In 2021, Kansas was among the least ICHRA-friendly states; now it is no longer 

“Historically, individual market premiums have been more expensive than small group premiums. Our data shows this is changing, and fast. ICHRA is now an attractive, cost-effective option for employers seeking to offer employees health insurance for the first time, or for those offering coverage, to control their benefit costs,” said Michael W. Levin, CEO and co-founder of Vericred. “We expect this trend to continue in the coming year, and as a result, we anticipate that more employers will offer ICHRAs.”


About Vericred
Vericred is the way health insurance carriers and employee benefits providers connect with new technology partners to deliver seamless quote-to-card consumer experiences. We are not the websites or apps you use to choose a plan or find a doctor. We are the infrastructure. We are the ‘pipes’ that simplify the complex exchange of quoting, enrollment and eligibility data between carriers and the technology partners responsible for delivering health and employee benefits to hundreds of millions of Americans everyday. Our APIs transmit billions of data points between InsurTech and insurance carriers, powering digital distribution across the insurance industry. Visit

Vericred Powers One-Stop Shop for Employee Benefits Quoting with Expanded Group Rating API

**NOTE: Ideon is the company formerly known as Vericred. Vericred began operating as Ideon on May 18, 2022.**

Adding two new lines of coverage, Vericred offers the only API enabling group medical, vision, dental, life, and disability insurance quoting

November 9, 2021 – Vericred, the API platform powering digital quote-to-card experiences in health insurance and benefits, today announced it has added group life and disability insurance lines of coverage to its industry-leading, multi-carrier Group Rating API (application programming interface). Employee benefits quoting platforms now have one API from which to power a multi-line, data-driven quoting experience for brokers and employers. 

Guardian Life is among the first life and disability insurance carriers to partner with Vericred at launch of the expanded API. The Group Rating API enables carriers to augment the distribution of their products through more digital sales channels, including benefits-focused insurtechs.

Using the enhanced Group Rating API, Vericred’s quoting platform customers can now easily quote and compare all of the most commonly offered benefits without building and maintaining their own carrier connectivity and rating engines. More than 300 insurance carriers and 100 insurtech companies rely on Vericred for digital connectivity and seamless data exchange, including industry leaders Cigna, Guardian, Humana, Principal, Rippling, Gusto, and Ease.

“By adding the life and disability lines to our rating API, we are helping our quoting platform customers be more efficient, so they can spend more time serving their clients and less time on connectivity and data sourcing,” said Michael W. Levin, Vericred’s co-founder and CEO. “Vericred is a one-stop shop for employee benefits connectivity, from quote to card, supporting insurtechs, carriers, and brokers in meeting the needs of the group market today.”

About Vericred
Vericred is the way health insurance carriers and employee benefits providers connect with new technology partners to deliver seamless quote-to-card consumer experiences. We are not the websites or apps you use to choose a plan or find a doctor. We are the infrastructure. We are the ‘pipes’ that simplify the complex exchange of quoting, enrollment and eligibility data between carriers and the technology partners responsible for delivering health and employee benefits to hundreds of millions of Americans everyday. Our APIs transmit billions of data points between InsurTech and insurance carriers, powering digital distribution across the insurance industry. Come join the community of insurance geeks creating a seamless digital quote-to-card experience. Visit