API – What’s the hype?

API integrations are all the rage in the HR technology space. Technology providers and now insurance carriers tout their APIs in blog posts and sales collateral, but is the hype real? In a perfect world, it would be. But unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and most are not actually leveraging API technology. This can be especially confusing and frustrating for clients in an ever-changing and intricate technology market.

To get technical, an application programming interface, or API, is a software intermediary that allows two technologies to talk directly to each other in real-time. If data isn’t being exchanged in real-time, then it’s likely not a true API. Not all APIs are created equally, either, and they can vary in their complexity. This technology isn’t new, but in the world of benefits administration, it is still relatively “young”. Below are a few of the different APIs that benefits technology platforms and insurance carriers are rushing to develop and utilize:

  1. Enrollment API – Gone will be those pesky EDI file feeds. New hire benefit elections, open enrollment changes, and mid-year updates will flow instantly.
  2. Configuration API – Adding a new benefit to your total rewards package? A configuration API will allow the plan rules to flow to the benefits platform.
  3. EOI API – Voluntary life and disability plans tend to require an Evidence of Insurability (EOI) form to be completed for the carrier to review, and approve or decline the enrollment. This API will streamline the process.
  4. Provider API – Need to know if your doctor is in-network? A provider API would allow employees to access that look-up process directly in the benefits platform.

Clients and their benefits advisors must look past the sales and marketing flyers and have real, detailed conversations about a technology provider’s API capabilities to ensure the right expectations from the beginning. Interested in learning more? Reach out to #AskEmily or your consultant today!



Corrina Nation serves as Manager, Strategic Initiatives and Broker Relations, curating lasting partnerships with Brokers – both new and current. Her unique experience from the technology space and at an agency gives her great perspective into HR Tech trends.