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

How third-party quoting platforms can drive better analytics and more sales for health insurance carriers

By Matt Leonard, Ideon’s Vice President of Carrier Relations

In recent years, brokers have flocked to third-party services to quote health insurance plans from multiple carriers. As a result, most carriers wanted to immediately tap into this new, growing distribution channel. They were quick to share rates and product information with external partners, making the downstream quoting process easy and accurate for brokers assembling employer proposals.

But not all carriers bought in. Holdouts chose to keep rates in-house, forcing brokers to obtain quotes directly from them. Their chief concern: a perceived black hole of visibility and analytics. Specifically, carriers worried they’d lose access to valuable information typically gleaned when brokers quoted plans via carrier websites and portals—e.g., which brokers sold what products (and where), what employer groups were shopping for new policies, etc.

Today, with a majority of health insurance carriers having made their plans and rates available to third-party quoting platforms, we can now see whether those early fears were justified.

Short answer: Carriers that embraced the “platform revolution” are being rewarded with a stream of high-quality data that can drive advanced analytics and turbocharge sales operations. In fact, their visibility into quoting activity on platforms is not all that different compared to if quotes are prepared on carrier websites. It’s truly a win-win—i.e., modern distribution combined with valuable insights.

Meanwhile, carriers that are not distributing their rates continue to miss out in two ways: limited distribution to digital sales channels and zero visibility into how—and if—their products are being quoted externally.

To understand why, let’s examine two scenarios.

  1. Carrier relies entirely on in-house website or portal for quoting

    In the past, brokers logged on to each carrier’s website to get the quotes they needed to assemble a client proposal. That’s a lot of busy work for the broker, but it gave the carrier critical information. Location data, insights on which brokers are quoting which plans, and information about group sizes and quote-to-close ratios are all part of the typical carrier analytics package. And when they see quotes generated for potentially lucrative accounts, the carriers can assign sales representatives to help brokers to win the business.

    This may seem like an appealing option to carriers that want full control over where their products are quoted. And, understandably, they crave these in-depth analytics. But this mindset—control over distribution—is built upon a false premise. Third-party quoting platforms still add the plan and rate information of non-participating carriers, mainly by tracking down public filings and other sources.

    The difference? The data could well be incomplete or out-of-date, risking the possibility of inaccurate quotes appearing on client proposals. And carriers receive no information at all about how well their products are doing on downstream platforms and no leads on deals in progress.

  2. Carrier engages with today’s platform ecosystem

    Today, nearly all brokers use quoting platforms to save time compiling rates from multiple carriers and building proposals. Most carriers understand this reality and have reacted accordingly. These carriers distribute their product information to quoting platforms to ensure rates and plans are represented accurately.

    At the same time, the participating carriers have access to a precise record of every quote issued, often specifying the individual broker, the employer group, and more.

    Carriers can use this data to build sophisticated analytics that can help optimize the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and commission programs. For example, they can calculate the quote-to-close ratio across different brokers, client types, geographic areas, and commission rates. Carriers are also feeding the data they get from quoting platforms directly into their CRM systems. That way their sales team can monitor how well they are being represented by each broker in the market and react quickly to opportunities.


Today, most carriers clearly see the two main advantages in working with platforms: distribution and visibility. The good news for those only now seeing the light is that they can catch up quickly, i.e., they need not build relationships with platforms from scratch. Middleware vendors, like Ideon, act as one-to-many distribution partners for carriers, accepting their plan data in any format and sharing it throughout today’s modern quoting ecosystem. And because a middleware partner pulls in quote activity and analytics from many downstream platforms, carriers get all the visibility they need to make informed decisions.

What are the opportunities that non-participating carriers are missing? Consider the recent experience of one new Ideon customer, a major health plan in the South, that recently started using our solutions to publish their plan information to quoting platforms. Until then, this carrier had assumed that most brokers were looking up their rates on their website. They were shocked when they looked at the analytics we delivered to find that brokers, using third-party platforms, were quoting their plans 600+ times per month. Before Ideon, the carrier had zero insight into these potential new business opportunities.

Now that’s a black hole to be concerned about. Contact us to learn more!

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.

Opportunity Awaits BenAdmins that support ICHRAs

By now, Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) are no secret. Emerging only two years ago as an obscure addition to federal health insurance regulation, ICHRAs are now among the hottest topics in employer-sponsored benefits. But any significant employer shift to ICHRAs will require answer to a pair of important questions:

  • Is there an ICHRA role for benefits administration (BenAdmin) platforms?
  • If so, what exactly is it?

We can begin to answer both by examining the motivation for companies large and small  to migrate to ICHRAs. For small companies, ICHRAs are often a way to do something as an alternative to not offering employer sponsored health insurance. In fact, 70% of the small employers (<50 employees) offering an ICHRA today are contributing to their employees’ health insurance for the first time, according to Take Command Health. ICHRAs also allow small employers to get out of the often-burdensome benefits administration business. So, at the end of the day, there may be very little opportunity for BenAdmins in ICHRA-based small employers. 

Large employers, however, are another thing.

There are several reasons why large employers might adopt ICHRAs—but getting out of the benefits administration business is not one of them. First, a feature of ICHRAs is that they allow employers to move classes of employees to ICHRAs while keeping others on their existing group health plans. This provides more choice—and therefore a better benefit experience—to certain classes of employees. The last thing such employers want is to undermine a better insurance experience with a lesser benefits administration experience. These employers will very much want their BenAdmins to support individual and group products.

A second reason large employers that adopt ICHRAs will not move away from BenAdmins is that they want to keep certain products (e.g., group life and disability) on the group “chassis.” This, too, requires BenAdmins to support both individual and group products.

All of which suggests a three-point game plan for BenAdmins to remain competitive in an ICHRA world:

  1. Support both individual- and group-plan comparison. BenAdmins must be able to support a hybrid individual and group plan comparison experience. For instance: group health and ancillary for some employees but individual health and group ancillary for other employees. And unlike the group market, where a typical employee may choose from a handful of medical plans that are fairly easily configurable, tens (if not hundreds) of plans may be available and will therefore need to be configured.  
  2. Support both individual- and group-plan decision support. Accounting for tens (or hundreds) of medical plans exacerbates the complexity of plan choice by each employee. So BenAdmins must shepherd employees through the decision process with the appropriate tools and features. What was once optional (shop-by-doc, shop-by-drug) is now table stakes. 
  3. Support both individual- and group-enrollment and eligibility changes. Only offering plan selection during open-enrollment period (OEP) is not enough. BenAdmins will need to support individual enrollment, demographic changes, QLEs, etc. for individual products. This represents a whole new integration challenge for BenAdmins.

Bottom line: ICHRAs are an opportunity

ICHRAs do not spell the end of benefit administration— at least not with larger employers. But BenAdmins will need to enhance their platforms to support this new and important coverage option. And in doing so, they will set themselves apart from competitors who disregard a coverage option that could become as ubiquitous as 401(k)s.

If you’re interested in reading more of Ideon’s 2021 ICHRA research and learning how APIs can streamline the development of ICHRA solutions, download our full-length ICHRA toolkit.

The Top Five Questions Carriers Ask About ICHRA

New to ICHRAs? Download our primer for health insurance executives.

Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) burst onto the employee benefits scene on Jan. 1, 2020, spawning a new paradigm in group health insurance that shifts the plan shopping and administration responsibility from employer to employee. Now, more than one year into ICHRA’s arrival, insurance carriers are increasingly interested in capitalizing on ICHRA.

To that end, Ideon recently hosted two webinars aimed at helping health insurers in both the group and individual markets understand how they, too, can join the ICHRA revolution. While most carriers are aware of ICHRA’s existence and the legislation behind it, we found that there are still several topics on which carriers have critical questions. In this blog post, we’re sharing, and answering, the most common questions we heard during our webinars.

Is ICHRA adoption among small groups more prevalent in certain geographic areas?
Yes, ICHRA adoption varies by state, and even by county. ICHRAs work best in areas with robust individual markets, affordable plans from name-brand carriers, network options similar to what employees find in the group market, and competitive pricing between individual premiums and their group-plan equivalents. Where’s the next ICHRA hot spot? Check out our interactive map to find rate-favorable states for small groups to shift to ICHRAs.

If the contribution is deemed unaffordable for the employee, can they go to the ACA exchange and receive a subsidy?
A key facet of ICHRAs is affordability. Specifically, large employers (typically those with 50 or more employees) must offer an “affordable” ICHRA or face penalties. Small employers, on the other hand, can offer either an affordable ICHRA or an “unaffordable” version. According to ICHRA legislation, an employer contribution is “affordable” if the remaining amount an employee has to pay for a self-only silver plan on the Exchange is less than 9.83% of the employee’s household income.

The ability to offer an unaffordable ICHRA is an opportunity for small employers. When a small-group ICHRA is “affordable,” employees are not eligible for government subsidies. If small employers offer “unaffordable” ICHRAs, employees can “opt out” and go to the exchange to get their premium tax credit, more commonly known as a subsidy.

How do you address the fact that individual plans do not generally have the same broad networks as group plans do?
One of the benefits of an ICHRA is that employees now have the expanded choice associated with the individual market, where they have more opportunity to find a carrier, plan, and network in which their preferred doctors and providers participate. Provider-centric plan shopping is an essential part of the employee decision process: about 70 percent of consumers, according to Ideon’s internal data, add their doctors as search criteria. When transitioning an employee to an ICHRA, it’s not necessarily about finding the broadest network, it’s about selecting the plan and network that best meets each individual’s needs.

How will ICHRA impact the role of the broker?
Group brokers have a critical role in the ICHRA process, from helping employers evaluate whether ICHRA is the best option for their company, to guiding employees through the individual plan shopping experience. Their role as essential advisors, trusted and valued for their industry expertise, will not change with ICHRA.  

Smaller groups already struggle to understand benefits. Are there tools to help them do the calculations around tax credits and ICHRA affordability?
Yes. Several digital platforms and exchanges have built innovative tools to help employers, brokers, and employees determine whether ICHRA is right for them. From digital affordability calculators to instant subsidy estimates, tech-driven decision-support tools are simplifying the decision process in year two of ICHRA. As an example, our partners Flyte HCM, Gravie, Savvy, and Take Command Health are platforms with ICHRA functionality.

Contact us to learn how Ideon helps carriers navigate the shift toward ICHRAs and provides access to new distribution channels via one central connection.

The Effect of Increased Competition on Premium Changes in the Individual ACA Market

Veristat: A Data-Driven Look at Today’s Insurance Markets

During the early years of the ACA individual plan, premiums rose steadily and often steeply, not least because of carriers’ decisions to exit various markets. But now that uncertainty has receded and the risk pool is better understood, carriers are changing course. Bright, Oscar, Centene (Ambetter) and Cigna have all aggressively expanded their footprints, and in 2021 UHC re-entered the individual market in five states.  

To evaluate the impact of this increased competition we looked at premium changes in individual ACA plans over a three-year period, from plan year 2019 to plan year 2021.  

Over that time, state-average, lowest-cost Bronze plan premiums fell in real dollar terms in 94% of states with increased competition (from new entrants), compared with 54% of states without such an increase. State-average, lowest-cost Silver plan premiums fell in 88% of states with increased competition, compared with 54% of states without. And state-average, lowest-cost Gold plan premiums fell in 81% of states with increased competition, compared with 60% of states without. In all, 16 states welcomed new entrants or increased competition; of these, only Louisiana failed to realize real-dollar reductions in Bronze plans over the past three years.

Premiums dropped in the nation as a whole during the same period—with or without increased competition. The nationwide average of each state’s average lowest-cost Bronze plan dropped by 9.4% in states where competition increased, and by 2.7% in those where it didn’t. Similarly, the nationwide average of each state’s average lowest-cost Silver plan dropped by 12% in states where competition increased, and by 5.2% in those where it didn’t. And the nationwide average of each state’s average lowest-cost Gold plan dropped by 25% in states where competition increased, and by 6% in those where it didn’t. 

In short, the news is good. Not only is increased competition expanding consumer choice. It’s accelerating a decrease in individual premiums, too.

Vericred Analytics: Rate Favorable States for Small Groups to Shift to ICHRAs

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

ICHRAs are the hottest topic in employer-sponsored healthcare. We at Vericred are tracking a number of plan attributes that could accelerate or retard this shift from small group coverage to the individual market. Here, we look at one of them: premium changes between 2020 and 2021.

In 2021, there are five new states (Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Washington) where individual plan premiums are equal to or less expensive than small group premiums. Interestingly, increased competition was not the driver of these lower individual premiums: only one of the states, Maryland, welcomed a new carrier to its individual market. (Note: Two states—New Jersey and North Dakota—saw small group premiums become less expensive than individual plan premiums.)

In aggregate, the average (across all of a state’s counties) lowest-cost Bronze individual plan premium was equal to or lower than the small group equivalent in 19 states; that’s up from 16 in 2020 and 11 in 2019. The average lowest-cost Silver individual plan premium was equal to or lower than the small group equivalent in 13 states, up from 11 in 2020 and six in 2019. And, the average lowest-cost Gold individual plan premium was equal to or lower than the small group equivalent in 12 states, up from seven in 2020 and five in 2019. Overall, the number of ICHRA premium-friendly states has roughly doubled over the past two years.

Click here to view an interactive version of this map.

More broadly, the disparity between small group and individual rates has attenuated over the same period. In 2021, the average Bronze plan premium differential between individual and small group markets across all states is down to just 10%, from 15% in 2020 and 25% in 2019. Similarly, the average Silver plan premium differential is down to 23%, from 28% in 2020 and 42% in 2019. And, the average Gold plan premium differential is down to 25%, from 32% in 2020 and 45% in 2019.

Since the launch of the ACA, much has been made about the annual rate increases, particularly in the individual market. More recently, though, the opposite appears to be the case. From 2019 to 2021, state-average individual plan premiums actually went down in real dollar terms in two thirds (67%) of the country. Small group rates, on the other hand, fell in only 12-20% of the states, depending on metal level. The data has spoken: Individual rates are falling.