The Washington Technology Industry Association announced a new partnership with Premera Blue Cross for its new health insurance plan. With nearly 50 percent of the WTIA’s current membership based on the Eastside, we asked WTIA COO Mike Monroe this thoughts on what the new health care plan means for hardworking techies on our side of Lake Washington.

How long has the health insurance plan been in the works?

WTIA has offered health benefits to its members for more than 23 years in response to demand from our membership. WTIA’s employee benefit solutions have taken a massive step forward as a result of the Federal Affordable Care Act.  This new legislation has driven the WTIA health program to be more employee and patient focused, and has had a very positive impact on helping us better connect with and understand our members’ wants and needs.

How does the new health care plan effect startups on the Eastside?

For startups, other than salary and equity compensation, health insurance is the primary tool used to recruit and retain workforce talent. Having access to an exclusive series of health insurance plans that have been created for tech employers and include membership in the leading tech association in North America is a differentiated employee benefit that all Eastside startups should be taking advantage of.

Do you think it’ll help draw more tech talent to Washington?

Drawing tech talent to the state is a complex problem that involves several variables, including quality of life, employment opportunities, compensation plans, etc. Washington already is a leading importer of tech talent with more than 85 percent of the workforce being drawn from other places. Health insurance drives the overall compensation package for an employee, which is a critical decision factor for any employee evaluating whether they want to relocate their life and family to Washington.

What makes the WTIA’s health care package the one companies should use?

1) Unique Features: The WTIA health insurance plan has unique features designed for the tech community. Examples of this today include tele-medicine and an employer web portal. New features will be released in the coming months which will make the WTIA employee benefits offering very different options available elsewhere.

2) Packaged Plan Offerings: The WTIA health insurance plan packages multiple health insurance offerings under one umbrella. Instead of buying medical, dental, life, and vision insurance separately, it is sold as a package. Employers can pick and choose the insurance that is right for them and receive one invoice.

3) Ease Of Administration: Through its partnership with BSI, we offer administrators an online tool to on-board and update employee changes with all carriers selected in the plan. This saves startups time and administrative costs, which is important.

4) Built In Consultancy: The plan uses insurance brokers to support its product offering in the community. Rather than employers making a decisions on their own, or from the health insurance exchange, employers will be able to leverage folks who have deep experience in helping employers understand the market and choices available for their employee populations.

5) WTIA membership and mission: The health insurance plan includes a membership in the WTIA as long as employers stay on the plan, so employees get access to WTIA programs and services, which are specifically designed to support the tech community in Washington. These programs and services include networking, public speaking, publications, blogging, lobbying, member discounts, and more than 50 face-to-face platforms during the year for techies to engage.

Monroe said the WTIA has worked to be a unifying voice for the technology sector of the state’s economy, and it is the fastest growing industry in the state.

“Without support from the community, the WTIA would not be able to fulfill this critically important mission that benefits our entire citizenry,” Monroe said.