In this episode, our guest Alex Frommeyer, Founder and CEO of Beam Dental shares the vision he is realizing at Beam for better dental benefits that don’t just cover costs but also help us keep our smiles healthier.
A new approach to dental benefits
The problems are clear. The dental industry is huge and very fragmented, made up mostly of independent dental care practices. This makes it really difficult to innovate because there are no economies of scale or margins to accommodate ramping up new technology or learning new systems. However, brokers always want to have the best new benefits to offer, and employers also want exciting new benefits that employees will love. So Alex, who’s known to friends as “Fro,” and his co-founders focused on bringing innovation to dental insurance rather than to dental services from the outset.
Beam is the first and only digitally native dental insurance company. They focus on easy, smart, and preventive dental insurance solutions. Fro took a minute to unpack this statement for us:
Easy means a digital, automated, and frictionless experience from quoting, implementation and enrollment, to administration, claims processing and customer support. Smart means providing custom pricing to groups with machine-learning models that allow them to be more confident about pricing for a specific group. The advantage of this is that they can offer lower rates where possible and provide a smoother renewal process.
Preventive is a focus with their connected toothbrush and their dental wellness program. Beam’s connected toothbrush gives employees credit for building good habits and that ends up mitigating the group’s dental risk. The insurance product and the wellness program work together to offer discounts at renewal for teams with healthy dental practices. Increasingly, the wellness program is going to be a platform for new products and services. Listen to the episode to hear more about Beam’s exciting plans for 2021.
Bringing a new benefit to market
When Fro and his team first brought Beam’s dental insurance plan to market, they received a lot of feedback from brokers that the risk was not worth the reward of working with a young insurance company. They needed to go back and get the basics right, supporting all the common enrollment edge cases and billing processes that employers need to fall in love with a benefit program.
Since then, the team has worked hard to not only check all the boxes for how a benefit needs to operate for brokers and employers, but they’ve been able to innovate on top of that foundation of operational excellence. This has been the winning combination.
“Brokers are so excited about innovation that doesn’t force them to compromise on a great base benefits experience for their clients.”
The barriers to innovation in insurance
One of the reasons we don’t often see innovation in insurance produces is because of a couple of big endemic challenges in the industry. Regulation is a huge barrier to innovation because insurance isn't regulated at the federal level. This means you have fifty departments of insurance to negotiate with at the state level to scale a new insurance product across the U.S.
Technology is another challenge. There’s a lot of technology needed to just administer an insurance product and to give brokers, employers, and members access to administer the policy and manage their coverage. On top of this, partnering with outside technology from agencies and benefits administration platforms can be essential for operating with a given group. This requires a lot of costly customization. Over time, Beam has been able to grow by making smart investments in automation and by integrating with key partners.
Adapting dental benefits to COVID-19
As with most of healthcare, the coronavirus pandemic threw dental care for a loop in 2020 when 85% of all practices were basically closed, or offering emergency services only, from March through May. Fro and his leadership team in their monthly all-hands meetings have been complimenting their team for their resiliency and adaptability.
“The number one skill of the 21st century for a professional is adaptability. Adaptability of your skills and how you work with different teams and different size companies or geographies, that’s an attractive quality for anyone who’s working today and COVID has only accelerated that sentiment.”
Listen to the full episode to hear more from Fro on the ways COVID is continuing to force innovation within both the dental industry and the employee benefits space.
During the show, Fro recommended a book by Reed Hastings called No Rules Rules. It’s a continuation of a long discussion Netflix has been leading in the business world about how to create company culture that drives success. It really challenges a lot of cultural norms that companies unthinkingly perpetuate. No one has cornered the market on what “good culture” means—it’s different for every business. But for anyone who wants to spend more time contemplating their company culture and then intentionally designing the culture for a specific outcome, this book will help.
Beam Dental is not affiliated with Brella Insurance Inc., and Brella does not offer dental insurance. You can check out what Beam is up to on their website at http://beam.dental.
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