The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), a local advocacy group for the Washington state tech community is building a new set of health insurance plans designed specifically for techies. The idea emerged out of discussions with the association’s membership, and WTIA says it wants to set up a platform that can be used nationally.
WTIA is partnering with Premera, to provide the plans. Premera is a new partner for WTIA, and is the largest health plan provider in the Pacific Northwest. Premera has already built custom coverage options for other local Washington corporations like Boeing and Microsoft.
“Today’s tech employees are used to having access to technology and will pay for anything that will improve their overall performance, including healthcare,” explains Mike Monroe, COO WTIA, in an interview with CivSource. “The plan comes directly from their wish lists and includes reimbursements for things like wearables, and builds in options like communicating with physicians over smartphone applications or video.”
According to Monroe, the new features are going to be phased in over the near term, and as plan adoption grows in Washington, the association will look to expand the idea nationally. There are some 200 health plans available within Washington state but this is the first to offer this feature set.
“As a small tech company it’s been difficult to find a healthcare plan that’s able to meet our unique needs. It’s a frustrating process because we see so much innovation across the board regarding new services that could be helpful, and yet we’ve had no way to access them,” said Gena Cook, CEO of Navigating Cancer.
The WTIA will build this plan through a series of partnerships with service providers and local startups.
“We think this plan will give small and mid-sized tech employers the leg up they need inside their organizations and during the recruiting process to keep top talent through a generous slate of benefits,” Monroe added.
Those companies taking advantage of the offering will gain immediate access to an expanded portfolio of plan options, telemedicine, consolidated billing, and a free onsite employer–employee health assessment. The remaining new healthcare offerings will be rolled out in two phases. In phase one, the WTIA will concentrate on making available the integration of wearable devices, personal health coaches, and gym memberships. The WTIA will then shift focus to create an interactive online community in phase two. This community is expected to include web tools to evaluate doctor and care performance, pricing, and customer experience.
Many of the benefits included in the WTIA’s healthcare offering also reinforce current shifts in the healthcare industry driven by the Affordable Care Act including patient-centered healthcare with a strong emphasis on preventative care. The WTIA says it will continue to take into account these industry pivots, new health innovations, and any movement around what tech professionals want to see in their plan throughout development.