Insurance exchanges for health care coverage open today as part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). People can sign-up for coverage at healthcare.gov. However, many employers must also start providing employees with medical insurance coverage beginning in 2015. Zenefits provides group policy quotes for medical insurance and also payroll processing services. I wrote about Zenefits this past May (Zenefits Is Convenient Human Resources) and again in July (Zenefits and the Art of HR Maintenance).
Zenefits is completely free, making its money entirely from insurance company commissions. Zenefits is a fair deal for everybody, which is the only reason I keep writing about it. State laws prohibit insurance brokers from offering discounts, as Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad discussed with the Wall Street Journal. Businesses and consumers receive less expensive rates through group medical insurance programs. However, the ban on discounts means insurance brokers like Zenefits compete by providing value-added services. Zenefits provides businesses with free management of payroll processing and human resource benefits packages, which the company announced this past May.
The payroll processing services offered by Zenefits includes 100% paperless handling of legal disclosures, withholding of payroll taxes, stock option vesting schedules, and even templates for letters like offers of employment. Zenefits also provides a synchronization option that works with third-party services like ADP, Intuit Payroll, and Zen Payroll.
President Obama said earlier today that Obamacare was non-negotiable for current issues with our federal budget. That means companies like Zenefits will continue to sign-up new group medical insurance policies as businesses seek to get the federal tax credits and avoid federal tax penalties of employer-provided medical insurance coverage tax provisions.
Zenefits recently raised more than 2 million dollars from a strategic set of investors. Those investors include Venrock Capital, which invests only in healthcare-related startups. Its investment in Zenefits was led by Bob Kocher, M.D., who previously served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare. Dr. Kocher was also one of the shapers of the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act is a form of economic interventionism that rarely occurs in the United States. Zenefits has the potential to profit from the rush by businesses to meet the deadlines imposed by the Affordable Care Act. More importantly, though, consumers and small businesses also have the opportunity through Zenefits to receive more value for the money they spend on medical insurance coverage.