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Marek Ciolko | Gravie

In this episode, Michael introduces Marek Ciolko, the CEO of Gravie, a unique health plan that offers employers a shared savings model and employees the opportunity to personalize their insurance to meet their needs. Gravie does this by helping employers control costs while still providing employee-selected coverage and a better experience throughout the process.

Marek has a long history of operations management for Deloitte and companies within the healthcare industry. It was on this journey that he realized that there are only so many ways to bend the curve and reduce healthcare costs for everyone with incentives alone. He realized that the core of health insurance needed to be tackled, which is why now, through Gravie, he strives to level the playing field between the group and individual marketplace of health insurance within their platform. 

The current state of the world with the COVID-19 outbreak makes it painfully obvious that the consumer is underserved in our current system. Gravie’s mission is to improve the way people purchase and access healthcare. They focus on an underserved area of the market, which is group sizes with between 100 and 1,000 lives. Gravie works with employers to establish a defined contribution and then provides a platform of plan design options for employees to select from that meets their individual needs. In essence, Gravie is a marketplace and a decision support system for employees.

In addition to offering a marketplace to employers, the Gravie product is a level-funded offering that helps small employers self-fund, manage risk and share in excess surplus when claims are less than expected; to date, 30% of customers are receiving refunds at the end of the year. As a startup with 3 years of experience, Gravie is already taking massive strides to control healthcare costs for middle-market employers and employees and we look forward to seeing them grow and expand their offering. 

Here’s a glance at what we discuss in this episode: 

  • 01:00 – Introducing Marek, his background, and his motivation for launching Gravie. 
  • 02:30 – He worked for Deloitte and RedBrick Health and learned the challenges with healthcare costs. 
  • 04:00 – With Bloom Health, they worked to make insurance customizable so employees could shop and the market could provide what they need. 
  • 05:05 – Gravie levels the playing field between group and individual insurance marketplace by granting true consumer involvement in the selection process. 
  • 06:55 – Health insurance is very expensive – our current global climate is highlighting that issue. 
  • 09:00 – Sometimes companies don’t have enough choices for their employee’s diverse needs; people end up getting more than they need or not having enough.
  • 09:50 – Consultants and brokers oftentimes see the employer as their client, not the employee. 
  • 10:30 – Customization and tailoring allow the consumer to pay for what they need and leave out what they don’t.
  • 12:00 – Employees have to go through their employers for health insurance, which makes it expensive for employers to attract and retain employees year over year.  
  • 15:20 – Employers need a way to cap (fix) their healthcare liability while keeping their employees happy – that’s where Gravie comes in. 
  • 17:11 – Gravie offers cost predictability and management of the entire system, including insurance, the administrative process, savings benefits, and employee customer service. 
  • 20:00 – It leverages stop-loss and helps small employers self-fund easily; Gravie gets a share of savings when claims are less than expected, so they’re incentivized to keep costs below the employer’s cap.
  • 24:00 – They’ve been in business for 2-3 years and have seen 95% retention and 30% of customers receiving refunds at the end of the year. 
  • 25:30 – The resources and programs they offer are medical management, innovative cost-containment measures to minimize peaks, and virtual care. 
  • 27:50 – What employees can expect at enrollment: Many plans to select from and a simplified process. 
  • 31:30 – They’ve designed an intuitive UX model; people are wary of healthcare and what coverages they really get. 
  • 33:20 – As an easy button option, employees have the option to default to a standard plan.
  • 34:33 – Their most recent customer satisfaction score was 95%. They also read data to see how well the platform is working.
  • 35:40 – Retention is also a critical data point, as is understanding buying behavior. 
  • 36:05 – They currently have 9,000 lives on their platform – they’re working with new brokers and partners who understand the need for new solutions. 
  • 37:25 – Their target market: 100 – 1,000 employees, which is the segment of the market that is the most underserved in our country. 
  • 38:45 – Geographic limitations may apply for smaller groups; this is a good fit for employers who want to define contribution philosophy. 
  • 40:45 – COVID-19; They’ve seen a lowering of activity physically, a spike in virtual care, and new, mid-year insurance enrollment options. 
  • 42:20 – They’re reaching out to employers that are in pain to help them through this tough time. 
  • 43:40 – Will the COVID-19 change be lasting? Will employers take a new, radically different approach to healthcare that is permanent?
  • 44:40 – Michael shares his predictions for the future of healthcare. 
  • 45:30 – Marek thinks employers will look for solutions that take out uncertainty.  
  • 46:30 – The origin of the name “Gravie”.



About the Host, Michael Menerey

Michael Menerey is a Senior Vice President and Benefits Consultant with one of the largest Employee Benefits Brokerage & Consulting firms in the country. He is a partner in the Employee Benefits Practice and works in the Los Angeles office.

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