Lawley Benefits Group is introducing a private benefits exchange that is intended to help employers manage their health care costs more efficiently while giving their employees more options in choosing the right coverage for them.
The exchange, known as Lawley Marketplace, is different from the public exchanges that are being created under the terms of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Lawley, an employee benefits broker and provider of consulting services, partnered with Liazon, a health-care technology company that designs private benefits exchanges, in setting up the portal.
Officials with the companies introduced the exchange to the Lawley sales force Tuesday afternoon in a meeting at WNED's downtown studios.
Lawley and Liazon executives say the exchange helps employers, particularly those who have between 10 and 200 workers, by offering a streamlined administrative process and allowing them greater certainty in their health care costs.
Instead of a human resources official having to choose the handful of health plans that will be offered to a company's employees, the private benefits exchange allows the workers themselves to select from a wider array of plan options, said T.J. Revelas, Lawley's managing partner.
Lawley plans to heavily market the exchange in the Buffalo and Rochester markets, with an eye toward signing up companies and employees over the summer and early fall. The Martin Group worked with Lawley on the public-relations and advertising campaign.
The members of the sales team were shown a promotional video and watched as a Lawley official walked them through a demonstration of the online registration and selection process that an employee would use to choose his or her health insurance package.
Lawley executives compared the process of shopping for a health plan to the steps someone would take to buy something on Amazon or search for a mate on a dating website.
Ashok Subramanian, Liazon's CEO and co-founder, said there are a number of other national companies that have started offering private benefits exchanges, but he contended that so far these are inferior or less comprehensive.
Subramanian also said the partners have learned a lesson as they've watched how the exchange has been used by employees in test cases. "People choose differently than companies specifically choose for them," he said.
---Stephen T. Watson