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4 Benefits Trends To Watch In 2017: An Insider Perspective

Last year at this time I wrote a piece about what I saw as the upcoming trends in the healthcare industry. Things appear to have been very close to those expectations with a recap as follows:

  • Consolidation continued to be a reality in every facet of the healthcare, health insurance and employee benefits space. This expectation played a major role in our organization’s growth as we worked to find like-minded partners to bring into the OneDigital family, including several brokers, and a human capital solutions division.
  • Emerging technology firms, solutions and business models remained a major trend, grabbing headlines throughout 2016. Sorting out this competitive landscape and making wise strategy and investment choices remains a top priority for OneDigital, so stay tuned for more news in this area. A direct offshoot of the technology and convergence trend did evolve business models and new alliances between companies across the industry. In 2017, competitors may even end up working together. Again, stay tuned.

As we close out 2016, it is becoming increasingly clear we should expect more of the same in 2017.

Consolidation: Builders vs. Flippers

Consolidation will likely accelerate as private equity (PE) firms continue to aggressively buy firms of all sizes. In reality, these PE firms have no interest in building great companies. They have one interest and one interest alone… building big firms and then selling to someone else while leaving the need for investment and operational issues to the next guy. In 2017, our organization has a significant opportunity before it, as we are uniquely positioned to provide investment and operational expertise to broker agencies looking to grow like few others in our market. We are proud to be building for the long term and continue to focus on creating economic value for our clients and our employees alike. Brokers looking to do the same should consider connecting with our Mergers and Acquisitions team to learn more about the value we can provide.

Evolving Technology

Deploying software for clients to better manage processes as well as utilizing data to make informed decisions will continue to grow in relevance. So much has yet to play out in terms of the true potential of technology for small and mid-sized employers, that no one can accurately predict what the next year, or even the next month will look like We should see real progress made in the upcoming year for firms like our own, who are learning how to truly play offense rather than defense with software. On a separate note, I am excited to announce that GoCo, one of our HR technology partners, was rated #1 HR software in the industry by the Huffington Post. The team at GoCo is growing and we are proud to play a role in their success, as we work to bring their solution, Simplify--to employers across the country.

New Alignments

Finally, we will continue to see partnerships, alliances and acquisitions that reflect a convergence in solutions as well as a realization that trying to be all things to all people is a hard thing to do. All kinds of firms are approaching us about the future and to better understand our perspective on what alignment will look in the coming year. Suffice it to say, we have built something unique in the industry. We truly are the only national benefits advisor who can manage business efficiently with a unique platform and a demonstrated cost advantage. A good example of convergence is our acquisitions of Fahrenheit HR (now OneDigital Human Capital Solutions) in Virginia. Managing Principal Tom Wimer and his team bring to our organization real depth of experience in the human capital solutions space that is gaining immediate traction in Virginia and North Carolina.

Repeal and Replace

2017 will undoubtedly present a few surprises, not the least of which will be how benefit advisors grapple with the potential for a presidency advocating repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. When we look back on 2017 this time next year, I am confident that our role in navigating the uncertainty of a repeal and replace landscape will have been one of the strongest ways in which we delivered  peace of mind to our clients.

Predictions aside, I would be remiss not to thank the hundreds of One Digital team members that are committed to not only responding to emerging trends in our space, but who also lead those trends. We are today, and always will be, a company that is about talented teams working together to provide great service for our clients around the country.


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