As Healthcare.gov procrastinators gear up for the nail-biting final weeks of 2014 enrollment, some lucky part-time or seasonal workers will be able to ride the coattails of their employer’s customized portal for assistance.

Case in point: The Boka Restaurant Group, whose approximately 1,000-member workforce includes legions of lower-income hostesses, bartenders, waiters and cooks who aren’t eligible for group health coverage.

These employees can now shop for health insurance on or off the exchanges with the help of licensed professionals through a partnership between Insight Benefits Group, LLC, a national employee benefits and risk management firm, and two Web-based entities, Quotit and Norvax. WBEs are authorized to help enroll individuals eligible for a tax credit subsidy in certified qualified health plans through their own online health insurance marketplace.

“All these sites are private-labeled,” explains Jay Jensen, a managing member of Insight Benefits, noting that many employers want their employees to access these products without having to go directly through Healthcare.gov or state-run exchanges where they have to vet every single insurance carrier.

He says the arrangement is particularly appealing to associations and groups such as chambers of commerce, and likens it to FedEx and UPS customers seeking a more efficient alternative to the U.S. Postal Service for package delivery. “That’s basically what you get with a private industry, Web-based entity,” he says. “You get just a better overall user experience.”

Through this model, HIX plan enrollees have access to a comprehensive suite of benefits beyond health insurance that includes voluntary offerings such as dental, vision, life, short- and long-term disability, auto and home policies, as well as wellness programs with chiropractic care or other services.

LINE-X, a company that makes spray-on protective coatings for truck beds, also was looking for a viable alternative to the public exchanges for its roughly 500 franchisee owners, who together employ about 10,000 people nationwide. Each franchise averages between five and 25 employees. This strength in numbers allows the company to pass along discounts on voluntary product offerings.

While much attention has been devoted to inexpensive and subsidized HIX offerings, Jensen says there are even better deals available through the private-labeled solutions. “We have seen off-exchange products in some states that are sometimes 20% to 25% cheaper than the similar on-exchange products,” he reports, noting the benefit of low overhead.

He says carriers that have shunned the HIX model are able to offer competitive pricing off the exchanges by targeting healthier customers with higher incomes who are going to have a better claims experience than unhealthy lower-income earners who could trigger adverse selection.

Also included in the private-labeled HIX mix are a marketing springboard for other types of insurance and a lead-generation function for business services such as accounting, tax and brokerage functions from corporations such as Chase Banking.

Insight Benefits notes in a recent news release that the arrangement “allows CPAs, nonhealth insurance experts, investment professionals and others to market their products and services right next to the health plans where 68% of American households will be going.”

Bruce Shutan is a Los Angeles freelance writer.

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