Partner of The Richards Group
Under the law (ACA) individuals and businesses (ALE) are required to have and provide affordable coverage to all employees. With a stripped-down set of rules and guidelines under the law due to dysfunctional politics, businesses are once again navigating uncharted health care costs fueled by demands that are largely unchecked. While this provides a satisfying challenge for Advisors, it is a pain-point that is front of mind for employers. The Richards Group, a Vermont-based employee benefits consulting firm, offers solutions to business Clients who provide health coverage to their employees with an approach that is fueled by innovation and a focus on a best-in-class unbundled approach for care delivery, claim processing, and risk management. The BUCA (Blue Cross, United Healthcare, Cigna, and Aetna) bundled approach is dated, clunky, and riddled with inconsistency. By using industry-leading solutions and analyzing specific client data, The Richards Group has demonstrated their ability to assist, advise, and plan current and future health care costs with Clients to be less chaotic.
The Richards Group has made a substantial investment in technology over the years – both in analytics that directly help drive positive outcomes for clients and operating infrastructure. These IT capabilities have proven to be very effective and valuable as they help their clients navigate the current COVID-19 environment. “Many employers rely on an effective employee benefits program to protect and retain their employees, and they want to manage this program and communicate with employees remotely to minimize risk,” adds Tom Scull, Vice President and Partner of The Richards Group and Practice Lead for Employee Benefits division. “We’re able to maintain our high-touch service model through a high-tech approach now, which clients have found to be invaluable. In addition, we’re able to collaborate with clients in a manner that prioritizes cost-effective employee benefit solutions, as we know employers are facing COVID related
financial challenges and are looking to us for help.” Along the same lines, the company’s investment in commercial risk management and safety technology has been a huge differentiator, helping clients reduce workers’ compensation costs and promoting workplace safety.
The Richards Group’s most prized technology considers a 360-degree analysis and on-going performance management of their Client’s Employee Benefits offering. The firm’s technology and consulting process succeed in creating an employee benefits program that can attract and retain a talented workforce, comply with the ACA, and address ongoing risk-management. In order to build this platform, The Richards Group first utilizes the nation’s most comprehensive benchmarking tool, The UBA (United Benefit Advisors) Health Plan Survey. The survey compiles data from 144 Partner firms and is loaded into a benchmarking database that can be filtered by region, state, industry, size, cost, and SIC code. From this database, The Richards Group makes recommendations to assist Clients in developing customized benchmark(s) for employee benefits. Once benchmark technology is utilized, they build an Employee Benefits Center web portal to enhance communication with employees and provide auto-enrollment choices with decision-making software.
The Richards Group loads medical, dental, and prescription information into their data warehouse on behalf of each Client. Using industry-leading data warehousing, they collect data to underwrite and assess future costs based on past performance and gaps in care. From this data, The Richards Group is able to focus care management and worksite wellness to manage risk and proactively develop solutions. “Finally, we use our benchmarking, platform, and data to design and implement a vast array of benefits choices for employees, that meet Client goals and budgetary guidelines,” adds Tom.
The company’s near-term goals include remaining an independent, privately-held boutique employee benefits firm with talent and expertise who can bring national capabilities to help employers in their regional market. They plan to invest heavily in data management with a focus on leadership development, worksite wellness, and employee benefit risk management. The Richards Group has started a coaching model that dovetails off their data warehouse and benchmarking that they believe will replace telephonic traditional care management and utilize best-in-class virtual care service to Client’s employees. “Our roadmap includes the expertise to assist employers with best-in-class payroll solutions, benefits administration, and electronic compensation modeling tied to interactive employee engagement tools,” adds Tom.