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Business Observer Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 9 months ago

Employee benefits firm takes on big rivals with proactive, innovative approach

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BeniComp embraces change while keeping its mission front of mind: Save businesses big bucks on health insurance claims.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Celebrating 60 years in business in 2022, BeniComp Health Solutions has brought many innovative products to the employee benefits market. But its internal operations haven’t always been on the cutting edge.

“In the past we had tons of faxes, scans, printing and mail rooms,” says Steve Presser, 45, the company’s president and COO. “We went through a huge transformation when I joined the company.”

Presser came on board in 2015, working alongside CEO Doug Short, son of founder Don Short. BeniComp, headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana before moving to Tampa in 2016, helped usher in an era of preventive health management with programs such as IncentiCare, BeniComp Select and Pulse, a predictive health management portal for companies and individuals.

In a nutshell, BeniComp, a third-party administrator of employee benefit plans, helps companies of all shapes and sizes move from fully insured to self-funded health coverage for their workers — potentially saving millions of dollars in the process. It accomplishes that with a proactive rather than reactive approach to employee health, incentivizing workers to adopt healthy habits and participate in regular screenings that can prevent and mitigate costly insurance claims.

“If the company is running well and your employees don't have a lot of claims, you could save potentially millions of dollars a year on your health insurance.” Steve Presser, president and COO of BeniComp Health Solutions

“As a health insurance and technology company, we focus on not just cost containment — lowering the cost of claims — but also on prevention,” Presser says. “We get almost 96% participation in annual health screenings, and then we identify risks through those health screenings and focus on engagement of those risks. Everything is about prevention and early detection.”

BeniComp has been highly successful at getting companies to think differently about employee benefits. The privately held firm doesn’t disclose its revenue, but it says its signature IncentiCare program has grown 1,000% over the past two years, while the number of BeniComp Select customers has tripled during that time.

The challenge, Presser says, is getting businesses to give BeniComp a look. Many companies take the path of least resistance and renew their coverage through Florida Blue, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, etc., without a second thought.

“It’s difficult to reach somebody who’s only heard of Florida Blue,” he says. “There’s definitely an educational process for employers. People just don’t know there are options. You have companies that go into the new year saying, ‘Oh, it’s time to choose health insurance again. Here are my options of bad vs. worse.’”

Yet trying to compete directly with the likes of Florida Blue is a no-win situation for BeniComp. Instead, it’s had to work smarter and shift to a data-centric business model that’s all the rage among insurtech startups. Working with its client businesses, BeniComp collects employee health information, which it then uses to create a customized plan based on risk factors.

“You can set limits on how much you’re willing to pay,” Presser says. “If the company is running well and your employees don't have a lot of claims, you could save potentially millions of dollars a year on your health insurance.”

Presser says the traditional employee benefits model is based on a “diagnose and prescribe” mentality that leads to ever-rising premiums for companies and deductibles for employees. A program like IncentiCare, on the other hand, can potentially reduce deductibles to zero if workers participate in health screenings and meet certain standards for biomarkers such as blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, body mass index and tobacco use.

“You have these health insurance products that cover very little, and so employees are nervous about what their bills might look like,” Presser says. “So they have a tendency to wait until whatever risk they have inside of them becomes a major claim. Something like cancer, it’s far more cost effective to get tested early and realize you have an issue to address, and then engage with that risk at its earliest stage.”

BeniComp has asked clients to rethink the way things are done, and so, under Presser’s leadership, it’s done the same for itself, moving from 100% paper-based operations to 98% digital, Presser says. Not to say that was easy.

“Going through the process of moving from old technology to new technology was painful … for some young guy to come in and say, ‘I’m gonna change everything,’ that was not an easy pill to swallow.”

Presser is also quick to praise Short’s willingness to step back after 40 years in charge and let a new generation, full of innovative ideas, lead. “I don't think many company presidents are able to do what Doug did,” he says. “That's usually when companies die — with their owners.”

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