Project Brilliant, an Indianapolis-based consulting firm that specializes in Agile training and transformation, has grown from one or two employees to about 10 employees since it started in 2012. Their service, which is used by CIOs to simplify their Agile transformations, helps them improve speed to market, boost adaptability in the face of change in the marketplace, and provide more transparency as to where IT projects are in the pipeline. Their team is spread out, with employees in Indiana as well as Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Kristen Kopel has been working at Project Brilliant since 2017 when she joined her husband, Aaron, the CEO, as Vice President of Engagement Planning. Kristen’s background is in sales and marketing, but like many small business employees wearing many hats, she also manages employee benefits.
I don’t have an HR background or any training in benefits management, but I want to provide a great environment for our employees.
Navigating the perils of the Indiana small group health insurance market
For a handful of years, Project Brilliant had offered a traditional small group health plan for their employees. Coming from a bigger company with amazing benefits, it was shocking and disheartening for Kristen to not have the power that a big company has to choose a good plan for their employees. Their choices were limited to two options—one with an HSA and one without. It was very expensive, with high out of pockets for their employees as well as high premiums. It wasn’t a great option for any of their employees, but for employees with families, it was especially financially challenging.
I wanted to find something that gave us flexibility and more options at Project Brilliant.
Kristen found the Indiana health insurance group market to be limited and expensive, plus Project Brilliant had employees in different states with varying needs ranging from single, empty nesters to large families with young children and everything in between. From an administrative perspective, juggling multiple group plans for out of state employees was simply too difficult to manage and finding a one-size-fits-all plan for their diverse workforce was an impossible challenge.
Discovering the better option
Given that the current benefits solution wasn’t financially sustainable for the company or its employees, it was time to look for a better way. It was actually one of their employees that brought the idea of reimbursing employees for health insurance to the table. An employee with a big family found the small group options particularly burdensome. He had mentioned that a friend of his had marketplace insurance and wondered if the company would consider a reimbursement model for him if he opted out of the group plan.
Kristen started looking into this option more and found an article by a technology council that she’s a part of that introduced the idea of Individual Coverage HRAs. She’d never heard of it before. She then asked her payroll provider, Gusto, about it and they recommended Take Command. Once she engaged with the Take Command team and their educational website, there was no reason to look elsewhere. She knew this was the solution they were looking for with a partner they could rely on. ICHRAs sounded so easy that she found herself wondering if she was missing something, given that she didn’t have an HR background.
One of my last questions before we signed up was What am I not asking? What am I missing? Now I’ve realized it’s really that easy.
Team engagement and buy-in
When they were considering switching to an ICHRA, Project Brilliant leadership wanted to make sure it was something their team would find helpful. Kristen surveyed the team first, showing them the limited group plan options with high premiums and high deductibles, and then she showed them another option: Individual Coverage HRAs. The team was all on the same page—an ICHRA sounded like the best option for them and their families.
Easy onboarding and enrollment with ICHRA experts
The onboarding process for the entire team was a smooth one. Each team member used Take Command’s dedicated enrollment team to explore options in their own markets and sign up for their own health insurance based on their individual needs.
Everybody on the Take Command team was so awesome.
A brilliant benefits solution with employee support
They’ve recently hired a new employee, and he was able to stay on the insurance plan he had (and liked) but now is receiving reimbursements for it. Not surprisingly, he loves it!
Project Brilliant does an employee survey every year. This is the second year they’ve asked their employees about their satisfaction with ICHRA, and overwhelmingly, employees have said ‘yes’ two years in a row when asked if they prefer an ICHRA over the group options they had before.
I wrote this blog because I care about ideas (big and little) that can help fix our healthcare system. I used to work on projects for Kaiser Permanente and the Parkland Health & Hospital System so I've seen the system inside and out. It's so important that consumers keep up with industry shifts and changing health insurance regulations. I'm also Take Command Health's Content Editor and a busy mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!