Hixme: Consumerizing the Inevitable - Worker Benefits

Denny Weinberg, Co-Founder, HixmeDenny Weinberg, Co-Founder One click is all it takes today to have anything and everything you want. Think about it! From groceries to automobiles, apparels and real estate, everything can be bought online. The rampant growth of consumerism in the digital world has opened business opportunities to an extent that was unimaginable a decade ago. Keeping aside all the technological innovations that have been reshaping the contours of the modern business expanse, there remain a few business areas that are still caught up in the shackles of an outdated paralysis, employer-sponsored health benefits being one among them. Conceptualized decades ago by a handful of like-minded businessmen to bridge wage and price controls, it also promised a healthier, more productive workforce and unique advantage for employers that chose to offer them. Today, all larger employers are required by federal law to provide sponsored health benefits, but they continue to be offered through the same, old, costly, annual customized process. The resulting employer designed coverages are then imposed on all their workers, unlike virtually all modern product and services, where mass consumerize choice is expected. Denny Weinberg, a health insurance veteran, wondered why modern-day consumerism could not be applied to worker health benefits too. “With pervasive experiences in ‘personalization’ and ‘ease-of-use,’ how much of a difference would it make to workers and their dependents if each were provided personal spending power, and options to choose healthcare solutions rather than each employer forcing one upon them,” Weinberg questioned. On the flip side, could such a consumer-centric solution help employers respond to emerging worker demand for flexibility, scalability, and portability?

"Hixme is the first platform designed specifically for larger employers to finance and sponsor health coverage benefits while allowing each worker and dependent to apply those funds to solutions that meet each specific preferences, and from the suppliers of their choice, and that are completely portable from employer to employer"

Piecing together every part of the puzzle, Weinberg brought to bear his 35 years of experience to transform the way employers offer benefits to workers. He and his colleagues founded Hixme to translate this idea of ‘consumerizing employer health benefits’ into reality. As a different kind of health benefits company, Hixme is on a mission to provide full marketplace values to each worker and their family members at a lower cost for them and also for their employers. “Hixme is the first platform designed specifically for larger employers to finance and sponsor coverage benefits while allowing each worker and dependent to apply those funds to solutions that meet each specific preference, completely portable from employer to employer,” says Weinberg, Co-founder of Hixme.

Born Out of a Necessity

Back in the day, major employers began offering healthcare benefits as a part of their worker retention strategy. Healthcare coverage largely targeted “hospitalizations only,” through one or two standard coverage packages. These were created by each employer and their advisors in a costly annual design process. Long before double-digit annual medical inflation, this was a prudent consideration for employers. Workers were required to contribute very little or none of their own money to this cost through salary deductions, so it was easy for working families to receive value.

We help employers to accurately budget their benefits schemes through which they can reduce the expenses by at least 10 percent, supported by simulations and financial guarantees

Over the years, the cost of health coverage skyrocketed, increasing at three times the rate of inflation and wages. At the same time, healthcare definitions broadened far beyond just hospitalizations. Managed Care plans such as HMO’s, PPO’s, POS’s and EPO’s overtook the entire market of simple insurance coverage. Meanwhile, the share of coverage taken from worker’s paycheck for these coverages has exploded. Consumers now are forced to be much more discriminating about coverages, source of care, differences in needs within the family, and affordability are disillusioned by the old model limitations and impositions. These changes have become a major concern for employers and workers, as they are bearing a much higher share of the cost and decreased value.

“Industries such as retail, travel, and automotive first resonated about emerging technology to help consumers make buying decisions through shopping applications that could filter commoditized products and services based on individual preferences,” says Weinberg. He continues, “Observing the increasing necessity for a new approach to providing worker health benefits, we started applying the same technology that was perfected for other sectors, such as consumer goods to employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.”

While new technology had been deployed to help employers automate or simplify their administration with this old system, technology had not been adopted to re-invent the core health coverage model itself to better the old system fundamentally. Weinberg’s team wanted to combine aspects of online shopping with modern-day digital technologies to subsequently build a tool that could redefine the employer benefits arena broadly. Soon enough, Hixme was born—the first-of-its-kind solution that could reduce costs for large companies trapped in an old customized model, and replace with one build on commoditized, consumer solutions, packaged together for employers. The Hixme Model leverages a familiar model to consumers—help self-identify needs, costs and risk capacity while engaging more actively with funds provided by their employer in a familiar way—a marketplace.

The New Frontier of Worker Benefits

The economically active, flexible, and customized Hixme worker benefits platform drives unparalleled worker satisfaction. The platform integrates with the employer’s payroll, and HR systems and workers are provided with separate and private log-in credentials. The workers and their family members can log in to Hixme health benefits platform regardless of their geographical location. They are then allowed to choose health benefit plans and coverages from a supplier of their choice in that local area.

What has helped Hixme thrive as a front-runner in the worker benefits arena is the diversity of health benefits or ‘bundles’ that its platform offers. These bundles can be used to provide on-demand health coverages to workers and their family members. With almost 2,500 bundles in its platform, Hixme provides solutions far beyond the basic requirements of traditional employers.

At the outset, Hixme uses its simulation tool ‘ModelMe’ to produce a thorough, customized analysis based on a specific company profile. Using the company’s unique data, the sophisticated ModelMe algorithms generate a forecast of the impact of the migration of a company’s workers to Hixme’s benefits platform.
​ModelMe projects the response of each worker and family member when presented with a full marketplace and funds to apply.

The ModelMe Simulation is built on predictable behaviors, location-specific offerings available, and general marketplace purchase data for millions of Americans, with surprising and guaranteed accuracy.

Employers that adopt Hixme then provide worker access to Hixme’s platform enrollment tool ‘EnrollMe.’ EnrollMe leverages its own ‘Value Scale’ tool to align coverage prices to the workers’ budgets and provides each individual with unique Hixme Health Bundle choices.

“We help employers to accurately budget their benefits schemes through which they can reduce the expenses by at least 10 percent, supported by simulations and financial guarantees,” says Weinberg. As Hixme’s technology platform and brokerage services take care of all benefits-related processes, employers are required to transact only once every month via the inbuilt payment tool ‘HixPay.’

On the Hixme platform, it is surprising how quickly families learn to apply coverages uniquely to the needs of each family member. For instance, a South Californian tech company which has around 600 workers is leveraging Hixme’s platform to offer worker benefits. In the first year of engagement, the client’s workers chose 25 different bundles from Hixme’s platform, but in the second year, the numbers went up to 110. Saving around 10 percent for the client while catering to the specific health needs of workers, Hixme reported tremendous success.

Rebooting Insurance Every Year

Traditionally, workers don’t weighing-in annually to optimize coverages. In fact, most hate the dreaded Open Enrollment process from their employer regardless of whether or not the plan provided by their employer and its advisors meets their family needs and interests. Hixme believes this is because there is not sufficient personal value for workers and their dependents to reexamine previous choices and consider changes in the needs of any family member in the near future. Despite annual hikes in their share of coverage prices, workers often just “ride with the old plan,” probably because they just don’t have sufficient support, incentives, perspectives, and alternatives to reconsider.

Hixme’s renewal process provides workers with an opportunity and shared incentives to restart the whole program of self-identifying needs, family, expenses, and companies’ contribution all over again. This ensures that each worker and each dependent can have the best overall fit for a new year rather than continuing a previous one which may or may not be useful. “If workers choose the wrong plan, they are locked into it for a year and cannot change it. So we build our solution to make annual re-consideration a big deal every year,” says Weinberg.

Bringing Back the Benefits

The company ensures a sustained success journey by making sure that their platform is updated consistently on the basis of customer feedback. The abundance of mid-sized and larger employers, especially those with low margins and pressures on internal costs has paved the way for Hixme to fulfill its mission of completely reinventing the worker benefits arena. Hixme is looking forward to streamlining worker benefits for companies and grow substantially with its client growth. Focused on adding new features to its health benefits platform, Hixme is striving to make sure that the platform features a cornucopia of bundles. With such capabilities, the company will allow employers to meet the specific health needs of workers and dependents with value and affordability. “Hixme, at the highest level, provides a sophisticated platform for employers to transform from an employer-owned coverage solution, imposed on its workforce, to a financial allowance and individualized access for each worker and dependent to a full marketplace that they can individually take advantage of and own,” concludes Weinberg.