Citing changing expectations around health care, League Inc. founder Michael Serbinis called for Canada to embrace the changes needed to encourage innovation in employee benefits at an event in Toronto yesterday.

“Innovation is when people are open to changing outdated regulatory frameworks,” said Serbinis during a Toronto Region Board of Trade event on Thurday that highlighted his startup.

“The next generation of workers has a different view of health care,” said Serbinis, noting the increased focus on the convenience in which they can access services.

Read: Consultants seeking solutions amid disruption, competition

While League initially targeted consumers, it was a corporate client that gave it the idea to add a digital health spending account, Serbinis noted. The startup primarily offered an online marketplace in which people could find, access and rate health providers, but after a company suggested adding a digital wallet for employees to store their benefits funds, League expanded its offerings.

Earlier this year, the company raised US$25 million during a round of funding. With that investment, it plans to offer additional services such as drug plans, comprehensive life insurance, extensive disability and critical illness coverage and employee assistance programs.

Read: Sounding Board: Benefits industry should prepare for chatbots

Having access to new tools is appealing to Michael Carter, co-founder and chief executive officer of Kahuso Inc., a company that matches executives with small- and mid-size companies for part-time or interim employment opportunities.

“As an entrepreneur that’s out on my own, I don’t have the luxury of an HR department or benefits administrator, so I have to figure that out on my own,” says Carter. “I think there needs to be better access to tools, claim submissions and payment methods. It’s not just plan design but how people access those providers. I need it to be more intuitive, simpler and save me time.”

Read:Sun Life Financial plugging into the startup industry

Startups often find it difficult to access benefits from traditional providers, notes Carter. “My experience is that it’s not very easy to find coverage for very small companies. That was one thing I found frustrating.”

Currently, League has enrolled about 500 employers. According to Serbinis, clients range from small businesses, such as a local pet store, to large ones such as Toronto’s University Health Network.

Despite its high profile, League is facing some competition in seeking to bring innovation to Canada’s health benefits industry. Last month, for example, Sun Life Financial announced it’s creating a new business area dedicated to providing digital health solutions.

Read: Time for plan sponsors to embrace digital innovations in health care

But it will take some time for innovation to change the health benefits industry, according to Carter. “There’s going to be a fundamental shift in not just what employers offer to employees in terms of benefits but more importantly what employees demand.”

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

Join us on Twitter