Gravie and Wealshire: An ICHRA case study

April 24, 2024

Like many employers in today’s market, Cory Wiskow, president of Wealshire — a leading dementia and Alzheimer’s care organization with facilities in Medina and Bloomington, Minnesota — has faced challenges in his search for a great health benefits solution for his employees. Wealshire employs 210 full-time and part-time caregivers and is focused on providing the very best care to residents so they can live with pride and dignity. As a business owner, Cory knows that to achieve their mission and deliver on that promise, they need to be an exceptional employer first.

In 2019, Cory felt exhausted by the ever-rising prices of his fully-funded traditional group health plan and was intent on looking for a new option. On one hand, he had a responsibility to keep costs down, but on the other he was committed to giving his employees quality health benefits. His broker at the time pointed Cory to a self-funded model. Cory understood that this model involved assuming all the risk, but what started as a hopeful endeavor for Cory’s team turned into their weekly low point: the moment when the claims report hit their inbox.

I dreaded Thursday mornings and the text I would have to send to leadership when I would get the number,” says Susan Chapman, Wealshire’s controller.

Not only were the costs unpredictable month to month, but every dollar billed was a window into each employee’s personal health journey and sometimes at the very moment they were in their most vulnerable condition. “You can’t un-see that,” Cory noted as he described carrying the empathetic and financial load of managing his employees’ wellbeing.

Cory felt desperate for a change. In 2022 he started working with a new broker, Erik, who was instrumental in finding ways to redesign Wealshire’s benefits offerings to better suit their needs.  In 2023, Cory asked Erik, “Is there a way I can just pay a set amount per employee and not be the middleman for their healthcare decisions?” 

Erik’s answer surprised him:

“It’s called an ICHRA plan, and once you see it you won’t want to go back.”

Erik led Cory to work with Gravie ICHRA, and it became clear from the start that this was the right decision.

What’s an ICHRA? Individual Coverage Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangements enable employers to make tax-advantaged contributions to their employees’ health benefits, so they can shop for their own plan on the individual market. Employers love the ability to define their own contribution strategy and employees enjoy the freedom to choose a plan that works best for them.

As Cory’s team began the onboarding process with Gravie ICHRA, they worked closely with Erik and Gravie’s ICHRA solutions consultants to design a contribution strategy for the 2024 plan year that aligned with their compensation goals. Now, Wealshire has more control over their benefits expenses — without the administrative burden — and their employees are empowered to choose exactly what they want in a health plan.

With Gravie ICHRA, Wealshire has experienced:

  • 30% savings in health benefits expenses
  • Consistent or greater enrollment percentages compared to their previous plan
  • A satisfied employee population that appreciates having more options

“It’s so much better. There are so many wins and not really any losses.”

Cory Wiskow

The predictability of expenses has given the Wealshire team peace of mind and has allowed them to invest money back into the business without concern for the big losses that could come with a self-funded plan. 

With the savings, Cory’s team creatively took their health benefits offering one step further. Through a partnership with a medical expense sharing program, Wealshire now provides an additional $2,000 to assist employees with bills if their out-of-pocket costs exceed $1,000. “We really care about our employees and want to be there for them in the time that they need it the most.”

Cory is immensely thankful for the trust he put in his advisor Erik who helped them look at their situation from all sides – cost, employee experience and more – to weigh their options and come to this decision. “It took me working with the right broker who was honest with me and aware of innovative solutions like this that would be a better fit for our business. No other broker I’ve worked with has done that.”

Likewise, when Cory started working with Gravie, he knew he’d found the right benefits partner. “You can usually tell pretty quickly after meeting someone if you feel like, ‘I believe in this person, and I’d work well with them.’ I was very impressed when meeting the Gravie team.  They believe so much in their products, and I quickly learned what a great solution they could be for us.”

Cory anticipates that Gravie ICHRA will be an effective long-term solution for his employees and he’s already looking forward to how efficient next year’s open enrollment period will be.

Check out episode 2 of the It’s a Gravie Thing: Health Benefits You Can Love podcast to learn more. In this episode, Cory is joined by Brian Blase, president of Paragon Health Institute and an architect behind ICHRAs.

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