5 trends affecting the gig economy

Published
  • September 27 2017, 6:24pm EDT
The rise of the gig economy is akin to a “tsunami that is not too far from crashing on the beachfront,” Joseph Murgo, executive lead at Anthem, said recently at EBN’s Benefits Forum & Expo in Boca Raton, Fla.

The American economy is becoming more dependent on this workforce, he explained, leading to a “seismic change and reconfiguration.” As a result, employers need to ready themselves to provide benefits to this demographic, but first need to understand more about what motivates them.

Introduction

The rise of the gig economy is akin to a “tsunami that is not too far from crashing on the beachfront,” Joseph Murgo, executive lead at Anthem, said recently at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit conference in Boca Raton, Fla.

The American economy is becoming more dependent on this workforce, he explained, leading to a “seismic change and reconfiguration.” As a result, brokers need to ready themselves to provide benefits to this demographic, but first need to understand more about what motivates them.

They may be interested in different plans

Benefit managers need to know what medical plan options are available, including comprehensive medical, limited medical MEC group plans, limited medical fixed indemnity group plans, short-term medical individual plans and catastrophic medical individual plans, Murgo said.

"A gig worker may be interested in one or more of these plans or none of these plans," he explained. "It just depends on their preferences."

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They may have a shorter duration of coverage

Since gig workers often bounce between employers, they will have a shorter duration of coverage and don’t behave like an active population. This must be thought of in underwriting, Murgo said, as they may not be on health plans for a long time

They need more ben admin support

Since the workforce may have unreliable hours, such as in restaurant scheduling, they are more susceptible to miss a healthcare premium due to a missed paycheck. As a result, gig workers should enroll through a separate platform from the active workforce. “If employers don’t want to calculate the hidden cost” of missed premiums, a ben admin system will, Murgo said.

They have different needs from full-time workers

Gig economy workers have different needs than active workers, with most having less disposable income. “It is important to get to know the workforce of your customer, [such as] their earning potential and who earns what,” Murgo said. These workers also have less experience in buying and using benefits.

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Their careers are expanding

Gig workers are no longer just in hospitality and retail fields. It now includes white collar jobs, such as engineers and architects, said Sandie Hord, vice president at Gallagher Benefit Services, who also spoke during the session.