Toggle navigation

How IKM Architecture Designed the Ideal Employee Health Plan with ICHRA

Company Profile-IKM

IKM Architecture, a leading architectural firm known for its innovative designs in healthcare, K-12 education, civic buildings, and workplace environments, actively partners with Take Command to navigate the complex landscape of employee benefits. Joel Bernard, serving as the Chief Financial Officer and stepping into the role of HR manager after their bookkeeper's retirement, spearheads this initiative, especially highlighting his proactive involvement in his second year with Take Command.


This partnership signifies a critical transition in IKM Architecture’s approach to healthcare and benefits management for its team across the United States, including Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, and Tampa. Without a dedicated HR department, Joel faced the challenge of offering comprehensive and cost-effective benefits. Take Command offered a solution that resonated with IKM's commitment to innovation and adaptability, providing a tailored, efficient approach to benefits management. This collaboration promised not only to reduce the financial burden of traditional group plans but also to meet the diverse needs of IKM's employees.

The story unfolds with an exploration of how IKM Architecture’s strategic partnership with Take Command has led to organizational enhancements and heightened employee satisfaction, demonstrating the power of strategic decision-making and effective partnerships in achieving organizational goals.

Learn how a Take Command HRA can transform your employee benefits.

Challenges Before Take Command

Before partnering with Take Command, IKM Architecture managed its daily operations and benefits decisions amidst a backdrop of complexity and change. The firm faced significant challenges in handling HR and benefits management effectively without a dedicated HR professional, especially after their bookkeeper retired. This gap left Joel to take on a dual role that extended beyond his finance responsibilities to encompass HR tasks.

Joel navigated these challenges with a strategic mindset, overseeing finance, code reviews, accessibility reviews, and even Deltek Vision for billing and timesheets, alongside the emergent HR responsibilities. The absence of a specialized HR department meant Joel had to juggle financial management with ensuring the firm's 60 employees received their benefits, a task that demanded both precision and strategic foresight. This scenario underscored the need for a streamlined, efficient approach to benefits management that could support the firm's expansive and diverse operations.

Choosing Take Command: A Calculated Shift in Benefits Strategy

The search for alternatives was driven by more than just financial concerns. Location-based challenges with insurance providers added complexity, especially for employees outside of Pennsylvania. Coverage options that worked well for Pittsburgh-based staff proved costly and less effective for those in Ohio and Florida, necessitating an increase in employee contributions. This shift marked a significant departure from the firm’s previous benefits structure, where single-coverage employees enjoyed 100% employer-covered premiums. As contributions for families and single parents rose, IKM Architecture faced the pressing need for a more flexible, cost-effective solution to maintain their commitment to employee well-being and financial sustainability.

IKM Architecture didn't take the decision to transition to Take Command as a benefits solution lightly. The firm initiated the process due to a culmination of factors that necessitated a reevaluation of their benefits approach. Henderson Brothers, acting as their broker, played a pivotal role in introducing the firm to Take Command, recognizing the need for change in the face of mounting challenges with their previous benefits provider.

HRA Highlights-IKM

The Challenge with Previous Benefits Provider

Before making the switch to Take Command, IKM Architecture faced considerable challenges with their previous benefits provider. The financial strain of traditional health insurance plans had become a persistent concern, making the prospect of cost-effective alternatives all the more appealing.
By incorporating this additional context, readers will have a clearer understanding of why IKM Architecture chose to partner with Take Command and the specific challenges they were looking to address.

Significant Savings with ICHRA

Before partnering with Take Command, IKM Architecture relied on a group plan provided by UPMC, occasionally opting for Highmark BCBS. This traditional approach resulted in substantial monthly insurance bills, averaging around $50,000 for their employee base. However, the transition to ICHRA through Take Command marked a pivotal shift in their benefits strategy.

With ICHRA in place, IKM Architecture witnessed a remarkable reduction in their monthly healthcare expenditure. For a comparable number of employees, they now allocate approximately $26,000 per month. This substantial cost-saving is a testament to the effectiveness of ICHRA as a flexible and budget-conscious solution, aligning perfectly with IKM Architecture's commitment to optimizing their benefits offerings while managing costs efficiently.

Monthly health benefits spend before ICHRA:

Monthly health benefits spend     after ICHRA:

$50,000 $26,000

A Successful Blueprint for the Future

The partnership between IKM Architecture and Take Command has delivered significant financial savings and increased employee satisfaction. Joel Bernard, the firm's CFO and HR leader, stated, "Overall, it's been a success." This reflects the streamlined benefits management and improved employee experience.

IKM Architecture plans to build on this success and continue improving their benefits strategy with Take Command's support. The partnership serves as a model for other companies seeking efficient benefits solutions while prioritizing employee well-being. As IKM Architecture designs innovative spaces, they do so with confidence in their ability to attract and retain top talent, thanks to their optimized benefits strategy and ongoing collaboration with Take Command.

About IKM Architecture

IKM Architecture is a leading architectural firm recognized for its innovative designs in healthcare, K-12 education, civic buildings, and workplace environments. With a mission to shape transformative spaces that inspire and serve communities, IKM Architecture collaboratively engages with clients to align projects with unique goals. Operating from multiple offices, including Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida, their diverse expertise enriches patient well-being, fosters learning and growth, strengthens communities, and drives innovation in workplaces. Committed to excellence in design and client-centric solutions, IKM Architecture continues to shape the world through visionary design and meaningful spaces.


Let's talk through your HRA questions

Fill out the form below to connect with our team and see if an HRA is a good fit.