Looking Back and Looking Ahead with Self-Funding for Small Business Insurance Plans


Q&A with Mike Schroeder, President and Founder, Roundstone Insurance


Did you know that January is named for the Roman god Janus, the protector of gates and doorways? Janus has two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future. It was with this in mind that I sat down with Mike Schroeder, president and Founder of Roundstone Insurance on a warm and rainy January day at our HQ in Lakewood, Ohio to discuss Roundstone and the advantages of our approach to self-funded health insurance. Here’s what he had to say.



Last year marked continued growth for Roundstone and our innovative approach to self-funded insurance. Looking back and reflecting on the company’s progress, to what do you attribute this success?


It’s pretty simple. Our approach to self-funding offers a better health insurance alternative to employers confronting ever-increasing costs. We do so with clarity, efficiency, and a dedication to the customer. We’re gearing up to celebrate our 20-year anniversary this year, and we have definitely hit our stride. The market needs what we offer — self-insurance on the group captive model so small to midsize employers can finally take advantage of self-funded insurance.



You partner with many benefits advisors to sell Roundstone’s self-insurance solutions for employee medical coverage. What qualities are you looking for in a broker?  


This is important. We’re pretty selective. We’re looking to work with advisors that want to do better for their clients — one who recognizes the status quo of our current healthcare system is causing harm and they want to fix it, to be part of the solution.  We partner with advisors who are consultative and innovative, not simply transactional. They understand and embrace the importance of self-funded health insurance.



On the other hand, why would an employee benefits advisor want to work with Roundstone? What is in it for them? What do they get by self-insuring their company healthcare?


We offer advisors the opportunity to grow and retain their client base with a unique and differentiated health insurance solution that helps the employer and their employees through an innovative approach to self-funded health insurance. We give advisors everything they need to succeed with us through an advocacy program that includes the educational resources of Roundstone University. But most importantly we build relationships with our advisors. We often hear that aligning the advisor more closely with their clients’ best interests gives them more job satisfaction. You might even say it fuels their purpose and passion.



Your mission is affordable, quality healthcare for all. Why is this important to you?


It goes beyond dollars and cents. No one disagrees that we all should experience quality healthcare. Making it affordable is the challenge and what Roundstone can help with through an innovative approach to self-funded insurance. Helping people and businesses is the ultimate mission. And we can substantially lower employers’ costs through self-funded health insurance on a group captive model.



Why is alignment important when it comes to our healthcare system?


Affordability of healthcare is undermined because of conflicts of interest, meaning one party pursues their self-interest over another. It’s a sweeping statement and there are exceptions, but some examples of this misalignment are hospitals charging exorbitant prices to pay for unneeded new buildings, insurance networks refusing a bill review in pursuit of prompt pay bonuses, cost containment providers retaining savings instead of passing them through to the employer, and brokers ignoring their clients’ best interests. The first step in delivering quality, affordable health care is to remove these conflicts and get everyone moving in the same direction and pursuing the same goal. And self-funded insurance provides the necessary tools to realign and prioritize the best interests of employers and employees.



What advice would you give any business owner who wants to get control of their healthcare costs this year? How would they know if they can do better? How do they decide if a self-insurance solution is best for them?


You cannot fix anything where you do not have information. Information delivers opportunity for corrective action. Self-insurance is a proven model to gain information and control over one of your top expenses. Start exploring how to self-insure and what corrective actions are available once you have the information and control. Choosing a benefits advisor who is skilled and knowledgeable in self-funding would be step one. Ask for references of other employers who made the switch from fully-insured to self-insured, and this may also help to uncover a benefits advisor who understands the process and can be a helpful guide throughout your journey.



What’s the key to scaling Roundstone’s growth effectively – how do you ensure you keep levels of service high?


People, People, People. We value our colleagues greatly. With training, communication, and our “Live Well” core value, we believe our growth, service, and customer satisfaction will be taken care of by the expertise and skills of our staff, that is boosted by the positive attitude and energy that they project.


Having said that, we are also investing in technology on all fronts of the business, such as back-end operational claims management systems, artificial intelligence for underwriting accuracy, and data and digital marketing tools to help build demand. The combination of people backed by technology and training will enable our growth at scale. We offer a valuable service for our clients — the ability for small and midsize companies to take advantage of the savings of self-funded health insurance.



Roundstone started a TPA called Bywater a couple of years ago. How does it fit into your overall strategy and goal of making self-funded insurance more accessible for small business insurance plans?


Our customers’ experience is paramount. Bywater offers us the opportunity to more consistently impact that experience in a positive way. As a third-party administrator (TPA), Bywater helps us deliver a more integrated health insurance experience through another touchpoint that is aligned with the customer and friction-free. Our vision is to make Bywater a best-in-class TPA, but we are still very much committed to remaining an open platform. Our goal is to make self-funded insurance more accessible to those who need it, and Bywater plays an important role in that mission.



How is technology changing health insurance? How does it help Roundstone deliver a better self-insurance solution – and how can it help employers navigate the system?


Technology makes it easier to get what you want. When information is visible and shared seamlessly, the customer experience is smoother, the self-insurance journey is more streamlined. Technology offers efficiencies for both the end user and ourselves as the service provider. We can reduce redundant tasks through automation. We can gain and share insights through data and analytics. We can process claims and solve issues faster. We can facilitate learning and collaboration through online platforms and communities. The market is changing rapidly and valuable new point solutions arise daily. We are always looking to modernize and drive efficiency through the integration of the right technology solutions that improve the efficiencies and cost-effectiveness of self-funded health insurance.



And finally, any advice for the Cleveland Browns for next season?


Fire Joe Woods and bring some dogs into the defense. We have too many nice, athletic types. We need to get some nasties. And yes, the whole team should also self-insure. They’d save a lot of money, which is great both on and off the field.




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