SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Jul 14, 2016) - The Aspen Institute's Future of Work Initiative yesterday released its first Portable Benefits Resource Guide, featuring Stride Health, the company redefining the way independent working Americans access health care and coverage. Stride Health was honored to contribute to the report, which provides guidance for policymakers interested in creating a standardized system of benefits for the budding 1099 economy.
Stride Health supports the guiding principles of the Portable Benefits Resource Guide, in particular, portability and prorated benefit funding options for employers. Benefits need not be attached to a specific job. In today's workforce, many people have multiple jobs and switch jobs (and employers) regularly. A worker should maintain their benefits' stability throughout these changes and be protected regardless of which marketplace they're currently acquiring work from. Benefit funding should be opened up to give employers the opportunity to prorate premium contributions based on the amount of work done for each company, or the workers' respective earnings.
"At Stride Health, we believe flexible, portable benefits drive sustainability into the increasingly independent labor force in this country," said Stride Health CEO and co-founder Noah Lang. "We have an opportunity to deliver independent workers the same financial security and protections that full-time workers currently enjoy through health coverage, disability coverage, retirement, accident or worker's compensation coverage, and even skills-based training -- without limiting the flexibility of labor in the New Economy."
Since 2013, Stride Health has provided a benefits platform for the contingent workforce. Our on-demand economy partners have led the way in delivering our portable benefits platform, starting with health insurance as a leading edge. Stride Health is the first company to build health benefits platforms for the leading labor marketplaces in the on-demand economy, with clients including Uber, TaskRabbit, Postmates and Care.com, as well as capital marketplace companies like Etsy and financial management platforms like Intuit. Stride Health's technology ensures workers at these companies have access to the most affordable health coverage and the highest quality care.
Stride Health is tightly integrated with major labor marketplaces, assessing an individual's banking data, health data and work lifestyle to deliver the optimal suite of benefits. In addition to powering health benefits for the 1099 economy, Stride Health delivers financial well-being guidance to ensure independent workers' income security, and has built bespoke ancillary coverages to meet the specific needs of the independent American worker.
In addition to the guide's proposals, Stride Health believes the following concepts are essential to implementing a framework for portable benefits:
1. Extension of portable benefits should apply to all workers. Though the guide focuses on the immediate needs of non-traditional "gig economy" workers, it is imperative that all workers, including full-time and part-time employees, be allowed to participate in portable benefits. This will extend overall workforce income security (regardless of employment status), reduce regulatory overhead of job/employee classification changes and allow for a more stable, productive overall workforce.
2. Allow pre-tax, prorated contributions from employers to all benefits. Similar to current employer 401(k) contributions, expanding the definition of pre-tax benefit contributions--to include things like healthcare and liability coverage--will not only empower gig economy workers, but will also provide big and small employers with greater choice in their current "all-or-nothing" binary benefits system.
3. Let existing incentives drive the ecosystem ahead. Employers want a benefits solution that isn't mandatory and doesn't bankrupt them. At the same time, most labor marketplaces invest heavily in their labor "supply," and are naturally incented to retain those workers, which provides an organic market for flexible, prorated benefit delivery. The guide's proposed Benefit Innovation Zones is a concept that supports the premise of allowing the regulatory clearance for a market-driven solution to bear fruit. (Lang recently expanded on this concept in Newsweek magazine.)
4. Public-private partnerships to administer benefits can pave the way. Private companies can move fast to build the technology necessary to deliver a holistic set of benefits, and drive compliance directly into labor marketplaces, without adding a net-new cost to the ecosystem. A third-party framework can move the needle, and offers the opportunity for that administrator to be tightly coupled with the labor platform, while limiting the number of intermediaries involved in the ecosystem to keep the costs low for the workers and platforms alike. Coupled with existing marketplace incentives, competition among private administrators of the system will drive greater speed and diversity in solutions.
Stride Health is encouraged by the expansion of the regulatory framework for portable benefits, just as Stride Health continues to expand the benefits offered to serve the health and financial needs of independent workers. Stride Health thanks the Aspen Institute Future of Work Fellows, Sen. Mark Warner and Bruce Reed for the opportunity to contribute to this guide.
To learn more about working with Stride Health to deliver benefits to your workers, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download the Aspen Institute's Portable Benefits Resource Guide, click here.
About Stride Health
Stride Health's hassle-free, user-friendly approach to healthcare and tax compliance helps independent contractors and self-employed Americans save time, reduce stress and tap into savings. The company has raised over $15 million in funding led by Venrock, NEA and Fidelity Biosciences. The company also works closely with a handful of on-demand economy companies and freelance workforces to cover their contractors, including Uber, Etsy and Intuit. More information at www.stridehealth.com.
About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.