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June 21, 2021

5 Reasons to Back Your Org’s 2022 Benefits with the Power of the Portico Pool

By Stacy Kruse

As you review your 2022 health benefit options, you’re likely looking for better rates, better benefit offerings, and better outcomes for your employees. Unfortunately – from a benefits perspective – being smaller in size can often put you at a disadvantage.

It is possible for a smaller organization to secure benefits similar to those offered by larger companies. The key? Leveraging the power of the pool. ELCA congregations and ELCA-affiliated social ministry organizations and higher education institutions that partner with Portico Benefit Services gain access to the power of Portico’s 16,500-participant1 health pool. This pool provides big benefits – five that I’ll share here:

Benefit #1: Minimize Risk From a Bad Claims Year

As a smaller employer, you simply don’t have the participant volume necessary to effectively distribute risk or absorb high claim costs. For instance, if an employee requires extremely expensive medical care in 2021, you would expect a large increase in your 2022 health renewal rates.

Significantly increasing your health benefit participant base reduces such risk – not an easy task for a small organization. Instead, joining an established pool of organizations to become part of one large collective can be a smart move.

At Portico, we’ve seen the positive results of this collective power. It’s just one of the reasons Portico has been able to keep annual health renewal rate increases at or below 5% over the past five-year period.2

Benefit #2: Increase Your Buying Power

When you tap into the strength of the Portico pool, you increase your buying power. As part of an established health pool, your organization has access to vendors and benefit programs typically too expensive, or inaccessible, for smaller organizations.

Rather than remain limited to basic benefit packages with narrow programs and providers, as a member of Portico’s pool, you can offer your employees benefits inclusive of health, wellness, emotional, and financial services.

Benefit #3: Reduce Health Care Costs AND Improve Outcomes

With a member pool of 16,500 participants, Portico has a wealth of data at its fingertips that is used to implement programs that improve outcomes and has reduced health care costs.

Using annual claims and demographic data, Portico determined that many of its health plan participants would benefit from specific health support programs, including Livongo® for diabetes prevention and management and Omada for chronic condition prevention and management.

Since implementing these programs in 2017 (Livongo) and 2018 (Omada), Portico has seen Livongo program participants experience a 0.4-point decrease in eHbA1c at three years from the self-reported values at registration.3 Omada program participants have lost an average of nine pounds per participant.4

Healthy outcomes like these directly impact health care costs, sick time, and presenteeism as they reduce risk for related, and subsequently more serious, medical conditions. Portico’s focus on preventive care and healthy participant behavior has led to these positive outcomes, which in turn, help our organization to maintain low average annual rate increases.2

Benefit #4: Attract and Retain Your Greatest Asset – Your People

Without your people, your organization cannot serve its mission to the fullest extent. Yet as a nonprofit, your recruiting and retention efforts can be challenged by lower salary and wage bands and an increasingly competitive market – one that’s become more competitive since the pandemic.

Robust benefit offerings can be your distinct advantage.

Benefits can serve as powerful talent attraction and retention tools. According to one survey:

  • 56% of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits indicated that their perceived value of said health coverage was a key factor in whether they stayed at their current job.5

Potential employees may have an interest in your organization because they believe in the mission, but the reality of a poor benefits package could discourage them from accepting or continuing employment with your organization. A robust and competitive benefits package can help offset lower pay, attract new talent, and support current talent retention.

Benefit #5: Decrease Administrative Burden by Leveraging an Experienced Provider for Support Services

As a nonprofit, you need to focus on serving your mission, so the last thing you need is more administrative burden.

By leveraging Portico’s pool, you’re able to relinquish many time-consuming benefits-related administrative functions. Portico supports you every step of the way, overseeing onboarding and implementation efforts, managing all vendor relationships, and providing ongoing personalized support to further minimize your administrative tasks.

Portico serves as your sole resource for all questions. It’s one call, email, virtual check-in, or even just a visit to your self-service online portal. We provide our clients with this level of service because serving you is our mission. As the benefits ministry of the ELCA, it’s our mission to serve your mission.

Put the Power of the Portico Pool to Work for You

In the benefits world, smaller organizations are often at a disadvantage. Your size may hinder your ability to absorb a high-claims year and leaves you with tough choices. You may need to decrease your benefits, cut programs, or reduce staff to make up for benefits-related budget hits. And that’s wrong.

Fortunately, by leveraging the power of the Portico pool, you can offer health benefits without sacrifice. With the collective buying power of ELCA-affiliated organizations, you have the ability to care for your employees with meaningful and comprehensive benefits that won’t break the bank.

Ready to explore how the power of the Portico pool can help your organization? Please contact us.


1 Data as of March 31, 2021.
2 The Portico Benefit Services 5-year average rate increase is 4.4% as of January 1, 2020.
3 Omada for Prevention Population Overview, August 2020
4 Artemis Health, Dec. 31, 2020
5 America’s Health Insurance Plan (2018, February). The Value of Employer-Provided Coverage, p.27, https://www.ahip.org/esi-survey/

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Stacy Kruse

Stacy blends a wealth of for-profit business experience with non-profit purpose in her role at Portico, where she leads all operational and financial aspects of the organization. Her dedication to process improvements and risk mitigation lays the groundwork for sound financial stewardship of members’ resources. Stacy strongly believes in helping employees see where Portico is headed and why, so that everyone understands their roles and works together toward a shared mission.  

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