Bethany Schenk, President & CEO
At the age of thirteen, when most kids are swayed by a new ambition every week, Bethany Schenk had charted the master plan for her future. She was going to take the insurance industry by storm and create something special. Governed by a steely determination, Bethany went on to graduate from Florida State University and majored in risk management insurance. Her career began as an underwriter—then sales rep—for a prominent healthcare firm. It is here that Bethany gathered her skills in managing employer and broker behaviors, but also learned of a gaping hole in the industry. In an already complicated insurance world, where people are perpetually confused about benefits—transparency and engagement were completely missing concepts.
At this point, Bethany set out to simplify a complex insurance system and in partnership with her husband, best friend, and business partner Ron Schenk. They founded an innovation powerhouse, Web Benefits Design (WBD), which combines state-of-the-art technology with turnkey benefits administration to bridge the gap between a client’s need for automation and the reality they live in. Ron, a former Washington DC dot.com success story, sold his first software company right as the internet was beginning to explode. The timing was perfect. Ron = technology plus Bethany = insurance. “My favorite thing about Ron (besides his hilarious sense of humor) is that Ron thinks big. He views the world and has ideas on a whole new level of unique and his strategic guidance throughout the lifecycle of the business has guided us through intelligent business and real estate decisions that have served us well,” begins Bethany Schenk, CEO of Web Benefits Design. Together, the duo created a business that harnesses the power of emerging technology to create transparency and simplification for the insurance industry. “Producing an off-the-shelf superfluous demo is the easiest part. Building customized solutions that connect hundreds of new and old technologies, and tackle data problems that most insurance companies struggle to solve, now THAT is something special,” remarks Bethany. Today, the company’s 18 years of experience in dedicated problem solving unique technology + services business model makes them unmatched in the industry.
Unified Benefits now a Reality
To create an engaging and trusted benefits experience, WBD starts every project with a needs analysis and formulates a unique solution for each client. The company’s integrated benefits administration platform offers HR professionals and employees a suite of compliance, communication, and administrative solutions. The platform easily integrates with any payroll or third-party system and eliminates the need for time-consuming and exorbitant implementation resources. For the maximum benefit of organizations, WBD builds a corporate branded employee enrollment website for all clients that is designed to simplify benefit plan summaries, enrollment information, and compliance for the most novice users. Imagine an Amazon-like shopping experience for benefits, presented in a cohesive, engaging, and comprehensible manner. “Many of our competitors have vested interests in upselling high commission products— sometimes to the detriment of consumers. At Web Benefits we earnestly care about helping employees make the best choice and deliver a transparent and trusted experience,” says Bethany.
A large part of what makes the WBD platform stand out from other solutions is its wraparound services. “We are the only benefits administration firm that developed our own, proprietary, unified code base for COBRA, ACA, and benefits administration within one platform—based on laser precision eligibility accuracy,” adds Bethany. “COBRA and ACA reporting belong with ben-admin so that feeds, files, history, 1095 forms, and reports tell a consistent story.
Web Benefits Design is a national employee benefits technology firm that provides enrollment and engagement solutions that streamline and automate the HR and consumer benefits shopping and administration experience
While most competitors “partner” with another application and struggle with connections and consistency, WBD clients enjoy a seamless, efficient “buck stops here” experience.
The company’s continued success also relies on its ability to maintain a robust data management program for all enrollment and eligibility, billing, reporting, and reliable procedures to interface with non-standard, independent, 3rd
party systems in use by insurance carriers and payroll providers. Noticing that the biggest gap in the industry is employee engagement, WBD has several tried and true ways to constantly reach out to the unengaged—before, during, and after open enrollment. “We anticipate dozens of ‘member touches’ throughout the year to engrain your benefits website and insurance dashboard into your lifestyle.”
All of these functions are supported by WBD’s telephonic enrollment and call center, where highly trained benefit professionals answer employee calls and provide multi-lingual services. Each client is provided with their own toll-free number to assist them with enrollment, coverage confirmation, new hires, and compliance queries. Though there is a common misconception that millennials are disinclined to call center assistance, it is true that mobile apps cannot replace live member support. To that end, the system was built from day one to accommodate the call center and provides ready-made templates and responses for hundreds of benefits related inquiries and creates a one-stop-shopping engagement solution. “While other solution providers outsource call center services as a defensive measure, no other platform has been deliberately built to integrate enrollment technology with telephonic enrollment and year-round CRM tools. In short, we will go to any length to ensure our members are engaged, educated, and that they feel good about their benefit decisions,” mentions Bethany.
The HR Hero
This kind of dedication and client-centrism ensures loyalty from clients and continuous efficiency for them. To elucidate further, when a large pediatric healthcare company was struggling with five different payroll systems as an outcome of multiple acquisitions, WBD came in and helped streamline the entire process. Data experts from WBD rolled up their sleeves and consolidated information from the five different payroll and HRIS systems and within six weeks 30,000 employees were on-boarded into one platform. Since the healthcare company had 27,000 field-nurses, 55 percent of the enrollments were conducted telephonically, ID cards were issued on time, and in the end, the staff experienced a renewed and efficient system combined with good old-fashioned customer support.
Passionate about “doing the right things” for all stakeholders, the company is continuously perfecting their existing solution. “However, we steer clear of the ‘me too’ game as there’s no satisfaction in copying short-term fads,” opines Bethany. While investment decisions in the company are largely driven by market demands, a substantial part of the innovations are based on client feedback which are later turned into signature services. Adverse to the idea of “one size fits all,” WBD also takes the added effort of educating clients on payroll and carrier connectivity and the reality of what happens with data behind the scenes.
“We have never charged for customization in the course of the 20 years that we have been in business. Our attitude always is, ‘hey thanks for the great idea.’ We then build their ‘ideas’ in the form of configurable modules, for future clients that need something similar. It’s a win-win situation where the client is happy and we have a new capability,” quips Bethany.
A ‘Default Positive’ Mindset
Today, WBD has the arsenal of tools that can often be modified, re-purposed, and re-packaged to fill a demand, and Bethany credits a major part of the company’s superior throughput to her team. The C-suite members at WBD are all industry veterans with expertise gathered across two decades or more. “When you put a think tank as powerful as ours, armed with their irreplaceable experience in a room to tackle a problem, the result is pure magic!” exclaims Bethany. The work culture at WBD is all about empowerment, positive energy, intense productivity, and equality where everyone’s voice is heard. “Moreover, we don’t just talk and delegate; we get things done.” To support best intentions and create an air of positivity, the internal saying at WBD is ‘Default Positive.’ “Serving our clients and millions of employees is hard enough. We must be ‘Default Positive’ with our own internal interactions so that we maintain respect and admiration for each other,” says Bethany. Needless to say, the leadership team at WBD has been together for over 15 years which speaks volumes about the company’s constructive culture. “My employees are everything. I will run through brick walls for them and they all know it!”
"Imagine an Amazon-like shopping experience for benefits, presented in a cohesive, engaging, and comprehensible manner"
Another relevant factor which makes WBD extraordinary is that it is a woman-owned company. Currently, 92 percent of all healthcare decisions are made by women. From band-aids to brain surgery, it is most often the female figure in a family that sets appointments, gets second opinions, buys prescriptions, and navigates through the medical system. As such, being the only female CEO in this space, Bethany warrants an intuitive power and understanding of healthcare needs which is reflected in the solutions her company offers. “Technology does not solve all your problems, the key, however, is interpretation and delivery of a holistic solution.”
Moving forward, as capitalism and the emergence of the private sector fills the healthcare industry with hope, the following years are expected to bring rapid evolution and transparency. WBD is positioned advantageously, because of their integrated systems that promote consumer engagements, personalized benefit shopping, and progress toward cost containment, and consumer advocacy. The company has big plans for their future and will soon release new-age decision support tools that are unlike anything the industry has ever seen. Keeping in mind that employees, benefit administrators, and brokers need cleaner data for better decision making, the company is focusing on creating high visual impact data that ‘tells a story’ through graphs, charts, and calls to action. They even plan to integrate their systems extensively with insurance carrier apps, lifestyle apps, wearable technology, and connections to carrier claim data that will guide each member toward more economical and efficient healthcare. Based on our numerous (and growing) partnerships in the industry, our insurance carrier partners continue to identify us (WBD) as the industry leader at what we do. They see the value in our services and are willing to subsidize our service fees for their clients as we eliminate bad eligibility data from their processes,” recounts Bethany. WBD has connectivity with over 1,200 insurance carriers and payroll providers but also has the industry’s most streamlined processes in place to quickly establish integrations and real-time connections with smaller payroll systems and smaller insurance companies.
“Web Benefits has an obligation to create cost-effective, rock-solid technology that provides solutions and clarity to hard-working Americans and their families trying to understand what their ‘affordable’ healthcare options are. No gimmicks and no tricks. Just honesty and a lifeline,” ends the CEO.