The health insurance landscape in the U.S. has changed dramatically since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 and healthcare.gov launched in 2013, with the goal of providing Americans a one-stop shop for purchasing health insurance that’s not tied to employment.

Since then, health insurance options for employers and individuals have expanded beyond the traditional employer-sponsored group health insurance model. Benefits administration software is automating employees’ benefits eligibility, elections and enrollment in medical, dental or other insurance options.

Take Command has adapted from being a company selling individual insurance plans to becoming more than a benefits administrator; Take Command is an innovative platform helping employers and brokers navigate health reimbursement arrangements (HRA). A 2020 survey of more than 350 large U.S. employers found the interest in HRAs to be on the rise—specifically with individual coverage HRAs—as employers look for ways to keep insurance spending down and relinquish the responsibility of administering health benefit programs.

With Dwolla’s Virtual Account Number (VAN) feature, Take Command created its AutoPay feature to enable clients’ employees to pay for qualified medical expenses with tax-free funds provided by their employer.

“We wanted to work with a tech solution that would essentially do what we do for health insurance and take the complexity out of the equation when it came to payments,” says Take Command Director of Product David Millar. “AutoPay with Dwolla is our solution to replicate the group insurance experience.”

“AutoPay and Dwolla’s VANs resulted in 2x growth in enrollments and unlocked a size of client that we haven’t been able to work with before."
David Millar
Director of Product

Using Virtual Account Numbers

A Virtual Account Number (VAN) on the Dwolla Platform is a unique account and routing number generated to enable bank transfers through the user’s Dwolla Balance.

Take Command’s clients are companies that don’t provide group health insurance to their employees. Instead, they provide employees a monthly tax-free stipend to pay for qualified medical expenses, such as premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The Take Command AutoPay feature was developed to attract clients who want the look and feel of group health insurance for their employees without the high costs and administrative burden.

Here’s how it works: Take Command onboards a new company and creates a VAN for each employee. These employees are provided a VAN that is tied to the company’s Dwolla Balance. The employee then uses the VAN to pay for their health insurance costs.

Take Command technical graphic: Employer, 1. VAN Assigned to Employee, 2. HRAs Assigned, 3. Employee is Billed for Services 4. Funds Sent From VAN to Pay for Services. Last image is Take Command

Many health insurance providers aren’t able to receive card transactions and instead require an employee to pay through an account-to-account payment method, which typically requires a routing and account number. For this reason, VANs are critical to Take Command and its AutoPay product feature.

“AutoPay and Dwolla’s VANs resulted in 2x growth in enrollments and unlocked a size of client that we haven’t been able to work with before,” Millar says.

Virtual Account Numbers: Build the Payment System You Imagine

More Than a Software Layer

Because Take Command was Dwolla’s pilot client to use VANs, Millar puts it perfectly when he says “we’re running a beta product on a beta product.” AutoPay is new to Take Command, and VANs are new to Dwolla. Establishing a relationship of confidence and productive collaboration was essential for Take Command when evaluating which payment service provider to trust with its new product feature.

“One of the appeals of Dwolla when we started was to integrate with a service that acts more as a payments consultant, not just a software layer,” Millar says. “We know the health insurance industry inside and out, but how that interfaces with financial transactions is something that the Dwolla team has played a key supporting role for us. We know what to expect and look out for as we scale.”

Take Command used standard ACH transaction timing when they launched with Dwolla. As monthly transaction volume on the platform continued to grow, after a few months Take Command upgraded their payment speeds to Next Day ACH and deployed the new VANs feature to support more volume across their platform. Since their launch, monthly transaction volumes on the platform have scaled to several million in payments for insurance expenses.

Next Day transfers were one of the features that helped give our team peace of mind during open enrollment,” Millar says. “It’s a six-week period where we need to move a lot of money quickly. Next Day ACH helps us onboard clients and support new users during that critical period of open enrollment, when our transaction volume peaks.”

Once Take Command completed the risk and compliance process associated with faster transaction timing, adding Next Day ACH to their suite of features was as simple as “flipping a switch,” Millar says.

“Dwolla flipped a switch and it worked.”

Building for ‘Massive Scale’

The AutoPay feature is helping Take Command sign large clients with thousands of employees.

“We didn’t want to have to sign up a hundred person company for a hundred different bank accounts. As a software company, our ability to scale and grow depends on the payment solution doing the work with us and for us without being admin heavy.” says Millar.

Head of Communications Amy Skinner adds, “I know there’s clients that wouldn’t have considered us without AutoPay. Dwolla was our way of attracting bigger clients.

Take Command’s strategy to scale is to make their AutoPay product feature a seamless experience that is available to all clients.

“We’re absolutely preparing for massive scale in AutoPay. Dwolla’s payment solution is allowing us to do that,” Skinner says.