Zenefits Launches Online Health Insurance Shopping for Small Businesses

Online Health Insurance

As a small business owner, wouldn’t you love to be able to shop, compare, select and administer health, dental and vision benefit plans?

Compared to large companies, small businesses pay more – cost per employee – for health insurance. It’s a fact. Companies with fewer than 500 employees pay 18% more than large companies.

Zenefits says you can change that. Since Zenefits has partnered with 30 of the nation’s largest carriers, health benefits will be for affordable for small businesses. It’s a one-stop service. With just a few clicks, you can compare the best rates and plan types from 30 of the nation’s largest carriers.

Zenefits is also presenting an attractive, new option – Sidecar Health. Sidecar Health leverages a “cash price” model, creating significant savings – 40% or more.

The driver of the savings is Sidecar Health’s unique “cash price” insurance model. The model leverages self-pay discounts, which many providers offer to patients who pay at point of service. The partnership with Zenefits brings this model to small businesses. 

How Does It Work?

Using the Zenefits platform, companies can choose support from a benefits broker partner of their choice. For those without a broker, Zenefits will offer direct access to its Certified Broker Partners.

In 2017, Zenefits exited the in-house brokerage business and built a new SaaS business from the software it previously gave away for free. The benefits shopping experience is the latest innovation resulting from that shift. Today, Zenefits People Operations Platform automates all aspects of HR, payroll and benefits for small businesses.

Zenefits offers its benefits administration software to its broker and carrier partners through a dedicated partner program. The launch of the online benefits shopping experience will accelerate distribution for Zenefits broker and carrier partners, while allowing SMBs and individuals to go from quoting to enrollment in minutes in a simple, digital experience.

“Access to healthcare has never been as critically important as it is today,” said Colin Rogers, GM and SVP of Benefits at Zenefits. “The benefits shopping experience is Zenefits’ latest bold move to reimagine health insurance and deliver democratization of affordable healthcare for all employees at any business, at a time when it’s needed more than ever.

“This includes those who are uninsured, underinsured, or traditionally find themselves ineligible due to their employment status as part-timers or contractors,” he added.

“Our goal is to lower the cost of health care for everyone in the U.S. with plans that offer complete transparency and the ability for members to shop for care,” said Joe Greenberg, VP at Sidecar Health. “Partnering with Zenefits expands our reach to small businesses and their employees – where our approach can provide real savings and increase access.”

The simple and intuitive benefits shopping experience allows SMBs and individuals to go from quoting to enrollment all within the Zenefits People Operations Platform.

A Q and A with Colin Rogers, Zenefits GM and SVP of Benefits

1.Uniting 30 insurance carriers to participate must have been a momentous task. How was that accomplished? How long did it take?

To offer expansive options across the United States, Zenefits leveraged its deep-rooted connections with the most trusted and innovative carriers in the health insurance ecosystem. Major carrier relationships have been in place for years, starting with those that initially saw the advantage of a true end-to-end digital experience for SMB’s, which prior to Zenefits initial model, didn’t exist.

Some of the initial conversations around digital shopping, and the technical infrastructure supporting it (inclusive of getting team’s funded within carriers), kicked off five and six years ago. As the ‘buyer’ in Market has continued to evolve quickly over this period of time to demand a consumer-grade Benefit buying experience, so too have carriers’ engagement in supporting it. Along with the advancement of these core carriers, we are pleased to continue bringing new and innovative partnerships to fruition as well.

Zenefits was originally established as an in-house brokerage, which we exited in 2017. In the early years as a brokerage, Zenefits developed a proprietary quoting tool to make it easier to shop, compare, select and offer the most relevant benefits for the unique needs of each SMB.

With the launch of the healthcare benefits shopping experience, Zenefits enhanced its original framework, modernized it and made it easily accessible to surpass purchasing expectations of the market today.

Purchasing has evolved over the last few decades. From buying a home, to buying a vehicle information is widely available and the transaction is fully digital — benefits should be no different, and Zenefits’ wide range of carriers partners, broker partners, and leading platform help support that.

2. Obviously, it’s important that small businesses save money while providing health care to employees. Individual employees could seek insurance through the Healthcare.gov marketplace. Why is it better for the employer to provide insurance? For example, does it help to attract employees?

There are many benefits to employers providing health insurance. Health insurance is definitely a perk that helps employers recruit and keep talent, especially during a global health crisis. According to a Zenefits’ survey, conducted in the fall, of employers with 26-50 employees, 70% offered medical, dental and vision in 2020 compared to 88% 2017, a 20.5% decrease.

While there is certainly a downward trend, some employers still cover 100% of health insurance costs for employees. As more and more companies decrease coverage on average, those companies that offer full coverage have an upper hand on talent wars.

3. Would you agree that someone seeking work would rate “includes a health care plan” as the most important part of an employment offer package?

Yes, the pandemic has put health care and wellness into the spotlight. According to the Zenefits, sponsored health insurance is still the number one value benefit that employees seek. Wellness and healthcare are the key to attracting and keeping top talent and ultimately leads to happier, healthier and more productive employees. A comprehensive and affordable wellness plan (and culture of wellness) may be a deciding factor for many candidates.

4. What are the basics of the Sidecar cash option insurance? How does that work?

Sidecar Health cuts out the administrative middleman between patients and their doctor and then passes those savings on to the patient. Paying upfront for medical care often results in lower health care cost.

How? Members receive a fixed benefit amount for any of the 170,000 medical procedures and prescriptions that Sidecar Health covers and can see exactly what their benefit amount is through the Sidecar Health app. The result may be a 40% savings on health care services compared to insurance-negotiated rates, without network restraints or surprise bills.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Ask your doctor for the discounted self-pay price.
  2. Compare prices between doctors to find the best rate.
  3. Pay with your Sidecar Health payment card when you see your doctor.
  4. Upload a picture of an itemized bill and you’re done!”

About Zenefits

Zenefits helps thousands of small and mid-size companies drive performance by streamlining people operations: the workforce, compliance and performance issues that are the difference between success and failure. Zenefits’ People Operations Platform delivers the most comprehensive, easy to use, mobile HR experience on the market. Its HR, Benefits, Payroll, Wellness, Engagement, Performance and People Analytics apps are intuitive and interoperable. Combined with advisory services and tightly integrated partner apps, Zenefits enables better business agility and performance for emerging businesses. To learn more, visit zenefits.com and find SMB news, how-to’s and resources at zenefits.com/workest.

About Sidecar Health

Sidecar Health is changing insurance. Unlike traditional insurance, which sits between the patient and the doctor, Sidecar Health members can pay for care directly when they get it using the Sidecar Health Visa card. As a result, members can see any doctor, all coverage is transparent, and members may save 40% or more on cost of care. We believe it’s insurance the way it should be. Sidecar Health has tripled membership in 2020. For more info visit: www.sidecarhealth.com .

Image: Depositphotos.com

Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.