The Salmon Migration & Breaking the Status Quo of Health Insurance


Recently I was discussing the incredible journeys that some animals travel in order to survive, including salmon’s unique migration. Salmon are on a very small list of species that are able to live their lives in two drastically different environments. They’re born in freshwater streams and eventually travel out to the ocean, where they live the majority of their lives. They go through multiple physical and chemical changes in order to survive and prosper.

Upon reaching maturity in the ocean, salmon will try to return to the freshwater streams where they were born to spawn. Salmon will travel hundreds of thousands of miles to reproduce, and must overcome obstacle after obstacle in order to make it back to their home pools.

The fish that successfully return to their breeding grounds wear their hardship on their bodies. They’re battle torn and gaunt with white bruises and scars marking their difficult returns. Upon successfully breeding, almost all of the salmon will perish from their journey. This is the cycle of life; it has been and will continue to be so for some time.

As I watched this beautiful and tragic process I thought to myself, but why? While there is comfort in pattern and tradition, does this always mean that it is the best, most efficient process for success? If suddenly a few salmon decided enough was enough and began a different process that didn’t require them to sacrifice their lives in order to reproduce, what would happen? Would others follow? I believe so.

Now, think of the health insurance industry as the migration. Employers continue to offer group plans even though the process is difficult and causes “bruises” from the expense, the time it takes to manage it, and the disappointment that stems from one-size-fits-all plans. Group coverage continues to be the option many companies choose, but should it be?

Think of us at Gravie as the salmon that are beginning to question this long-standing tradition and, by questioning, are creating a new process to rid employers of the bruises and lead them on a new path to survival. 

Because of the Affordable Care Act, individual health insurance is now a lot better than it used to be. No one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, certain things must be covered, and there are government tax credits available to help some people pay for their coverage. Now that it’s so much better, it makes a lot more sense for employers to get out of the healthcare game and send their employees to the individual market. We created a product and service that makes it easy for employers and employees to make this transition.

Employers that have dropped group and sent their employees to Gravie have saved, on average, 36% on health insurance costs. But it’s not just the money; it’s the time, too. No longer do employers have to facilitate an annual open enrollment meeting with employees, make sure everyone signs up, and deal with all the paperwork that ensues. They simply send employees to Gravie, and we take care of it all.

Employees win, too. They’re no longer dragged along a painful journey of finding a group plan that meets the needs of as many employees as possible, only to get a plan that doesn’t fit their needs and is really expensive. Instead, they get the freedom to choose their own plan, along with advice and support of unbiased Gravie advisors.

At Gravie, we’re not willing to do something just because “it’s always been done a particular way.” We try to do things that are best for individuals. In nature, adaptation takes place all the time; we’re beginning to see this with many species, including salmon. Adaptions are not always easy, nor do they happen quickly, but they do happen for a reason. They happen because something isn’t working, something is broken, or something needs to be fixed. It may take time for this new way of doing health insurance to be accepted by the majority, but we’re making progress in helping those companies and employees who need the transition most and see clearly the benefits it will provide now and in the future.

Don’t settle because you think health insurance has to be offered a certain way. What will be the best, easiest, and most cost effective choice that you can make? Maybe it isn’t swimming upstream with everyone else—maybe it is adapting.

— Lizzie Merrill, Sales Development Representative