With the gig economy and independent contractor workforce growing, many employers want to provide a benefits offering for those workers without funding it.
Companies such as Uber and Seamless, along with small mom-and-pop shops that employ plumbers and photographers, are turning to a Stride Health, a technology platform that helps workers shop for benefits in the public marketplace and also keep track of their tax expenditures.
“Because of the growth in the gig economy, more companies are interested in being able to better attract gig economy workers and have them stay longer,” says Mark Maselli, integrated benefits solutions leader at Willis Towers Watson. “What Stride is doing is looking to fill a gap. These individuals are not employees but they have needs.”
Stride Health recently partnered with Willis Towers Watson to bring the platform to their clients.
The cloud-based platform is accessible on desktop as well as in a native app like Uber or Seamless — which has iOS and Android capabilities — and connects workers to healthcare, dental, vision and voluntary benefits in the marketplace, says Stride Health CEO and co-founder Noah Lang.
The platform collects a user’s location, gender and age as well as any condition they are managing, prescriptions they’re taking and doctors they like, says Lang. The platform also utilizes predictive algorithms to determine how much care a user is likely to consume in the following year, which helps for financial planning and tax purposes.
The Stride Health platform has an index of every U.S. plan and deep metadata across those plans, which compare cost and coverage, to forecast the types of events a user might have in a given year and price that care based on the data, says Lang.
Once a user is enrolled with Stride Health — which Lang says acts as a broker — she can receive software-enabled and human assistance to guide her through the complexities of purchasing benefits on the public exchange. He adds that the platform is commission agnostic, which allows the algorithm to recommend the best benefits for a user rather than the benefit that will pay Stride Health the most money.
“The people we serve don’t have an HR department,” he says. “There’s more consumer confusion, a shorter timeline [for ACA open enrollment] and less federal funding. We’re doubling down.”
More than five million independent contractors have access to the platform through partner companies like Uber, Seamless and Postmates, although Lang declined to share what percentage of workers are enrolled with Stride Health. He adds that only 15% of independent contractors work on digital platforms, so alliances with firms like Willis Towers Watson is vital to reaching the majority of contract workers.
“It’s a leap into outside of the on-demand economy,” Lang says.
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