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Benefitfocus Sets Out its Benefits Vision



The recent OnePlace2020 digital conference was an opportunity for Benefitfocus to launch its 2020 strategy and to increase awareness of the benefits marketplace. Its vision is to improve lives with benefits, timely in light of the current global pandemic.

Ray August, President and CEO, shed light on the fact that health care costs per employee have grown faster than wages. Benefitfocus’ mission of shaping the benefits industry through understanding people’s needs and analysis of data shows Benefitfocus taking the role of industry thought leader and benefit curator. It recognizes through working with all stakeholders in the industry that it is in the mutual interest of employers, employees, and suppliers to ensure high participant satisfaction, effective services, and value for money. The ongoing challenge seems to be educating employees and HR advisors to understand the benefits offerings, with ML tailoring packages to individual needs to participate at the right time.

Benefitfocus achieved impressive growth in 2019, with 25m people on its platform, up 25% from 2018. Ray August suggests growth has been primarily driven from having a strong focus on understanding and researching consumer needs. From 2020 onwards, it aims to broaden its approach, engaging more with the wider community, including employers, brokers, health plans, and suppliers. It looks to drive closer engagements with all players in the industry to bring a wide range of innovation and new offerings to participants. These could be very specific solutions to help with particular needs: bringing consumers an extensive suite of offerings enables greater tailoring of benefits to suit many more individual needs. The key to success is the ability to leverage AI and data.

As part of its broadening objective, Benefitfocus developed Benefitplace, a digital marketplace where all interactions with participants can be managed from a single place. Benefitplace has approximately 150k employer users, with over 80 products and services from 50 partners. Throughout 2020 it will extend Benefitplace, as well as InnovationPlace, bringing on new startups into the program. Innovative companies introduced include:

  • Family and fertility planning firm Natalist
  • Home ‘over the counter’ medicine kit provider Cabinet Health
  • Milk Stork, a company helping mothers with breastmilk shipping and breastfeeding options
  • Mymedicalimages, a HIPPA-compliant platform for consumers to view, manage and share medical images, speeding up treatments and assisting with referrals
  • FutureFuel and Edmit, companies helping with college decisions and managing debt.

With its digital marketplace, Benefitfocus will be able to offer more creative benefits offerings, leveraging fresh start-up innovators in the industry.

It is worth saying that at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, at short notice, Benefitfocus moved the OnePlace2020 conference to a digital platform. It should be applauded for the quick decision-making and the technical enablement at a time of world crisis. The conference delivered key messages on how the benefits industry can help employees, providers, and companies all reach the common goal of supporting health and wellness, at a time of heightened urgency.


I am researching Next Generation Benefits Platforms for my next market analysis project this summer, delving deeper into adoption challenges and the opportunities these technologies provide to consumers.


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