Bind Benefits is moving into the market for fully insured health plans, with products already approved for employers in Florida and plans to sell the coverage in dozens of other states by the end of next year.

The Minneapolis-based company this week announced approval from Florida regulators to sell coverage to employers with 50 or more workers seeking “fully insured” coverage, meaning Bind takes the financial risk for paying medical claims.

Previously, Bind Benefits wasn’t a health insurer but provided administrative services to “self-insured” employers that are at risk for excess medical costs in worker health plans.

Now, Bind says it’s filed for approval to sell fully insured health plans to employers in Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The company also plans to file with regulators in Minnesota and other states in 2020 and early 2021.

“Bind innovation changes the cost curve for both employers and employees — something the fully insured market urgently needs,” Tony Miller, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Very large employers tend to provide self-insured health plans to workers, whereas smaller firms more typically purchase in the fully insured market. Individuals also buy fully insured coverage.

In 2017, about 38% of Minnesotans were covered by self-insured plans, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, whereas fully insured plans covered about 20% of state residents.

Bind launched what it calls “on-demand” health insurance in 2016. Two years later, the company raised $70 million from investors including UnitedHealthcare, the Minnetonka-based health insurance giant, to fund a national expansion.

In 2018, growth focused on large self-insured employers that hire the company for administrative services. Bind said it now serves nearly 100,000 members, including employees of Medtronic, Best Buy, Cumberland (Wis.) School District and Culligan.

Bind said it provides technology tools so subscribers can see costs in advance of care and make smarter decisions about their options. The company employs about 290 people, including 250 in Minnesota.

The current expansion into fully insured health plans will not include coverage for individuals, a spokeswoman said.

Miller co-founded and was chief executive at Definity Health, a St. Louis Park-based company that developed what are called “consumer-directed health plans.” They were part of a movement in the 2000s that eventually coupled high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts.

UnitedHealthcare’s parent company agreed in 2004 to acquire Definity Health for $300 million.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck