Better Benefits Podcast Episode #14: Are your health benefits financially inclusive? with Carolyn McMahon

by Leslie Harding | April 12, 2021

In this episode of Better Benefits, Carolyn McMahon joined us to discuss human-centered design and its potential to help make health benefits more financially inclusive. Carolyn is an independent financial inclusion consultant and founder of FemFinance, which offers consultation in the areas of strategy, consumer research, and product design. She specializes in complex program management, strategic communications, product development, and human-centered research. We also welcomed a special co-host this episode, our Chief Insurance Officer, Amanda Turcotte.

Carolyn’s journey to working in financial inclusion 

Carolyn’s first professional passion was conflict resolution, and she is a trained mediator. In doing that work, she spent a lot of time in people’s personal finances, observing how money can constrain what they are able to do in their lives and how that can lead to conflict. That sparked her interest in understanding more about financial inclusion.

Financial inclusion asks us to consider how we can design systems that are more accessible. This includes changing systems that weren’t created to be inclusive and increasing access to financial products that meet people’s needs. 

Carolyn’s work in financial inclusion led her to start her research and strategy firm, FemFinance. She says it was a “no-brainer” that she would be leveraging human-centered design practices and principles to inform her work there. 

What is human-centered design?

Human-centered design as a principle is just what it sounds like, putting human behavior and attitudes at the center of inquiry. On principle, it means taking human needs into consideration first. There is nothing novel about human-centered design, which is, well, by design. That’s because it is all about meeting human needs. It is simple and elegant. With human-centered design, your touchstone is solving a real problem for real people.

Human-centered design is also a research methodology. It involves thinking about qualitative data, having small sample sizes, and using longer engagements with research participants to fuel deep insights. It involves participants, not subjects. In a human-centered design process, when you are researching you are co-creating with your participants. 

Classically, another principle of human-centered design is that you don’t start with a product. You start with curiosity about a need or problem. Fundamentally you are not testing a product, you are making a hypothesis around a problem, then understanding that problem and how it manifests in daily life. Once you understand the problem fully you can begin thinking of possible solutions.

What happens when we apply human-centered design principles to employee benefits? 

Using human-centered design principles is certainly not the norm at health insurance companies. Based on her experience in the industry, Amanda tells us that typically they start with a product and identify quantitative problems, like not meeting enrollment or profitability goals, then make hypotheses, agree on what to try, and implement changes to the product. The problem with this system is that it goes from problem to hypothesis to conclusion—there is no step for research, experimentation, and analysis. Human-centered design focuses on understanding problems before jumping to solutions, which can make those solutions better suited to meeting people’s needs.

Employers and brokers can use human-centered design principles to improve their employee benefits strategy. On a global level, something everyone can do is try to cultivate a mindset of genuine curiosity. Speaking to this idea of genuine curiosity, Carolyn tells us, “That’s really easy to say and it’s really difficult to do. It’s hard to ask questions, especially when you’re afraid of the answers…and it’s hard to be curious about things that aren’t immediately in front of your face.” 

One of the benefits of human-centered design is it elevates voices you may not be hearing. For example, if you’re a broker, you’ve likely got some clients who are always calling you, wanting to talk about their rates, their plans, their problems. You know their challenges and needs intimately, so it’s easy to be reactive to their problems. But who are you not hearing from? Who are the clients who renew every year, but never call? What about the clients who ghost you at renewal time? What did you not hear about from them? Human-centered design principles might say, let’s go out and do long-form interviews with these people you never hear from. Ask them open-ended questions from a place of curiosity, and be ready to hear about their full experience. Then let this inform your relationships, your behavior, and your plans.

What should employers know when implementing human-centered design in regards to their benefits?

Health insurance is one of the most personal products on the market. It exists at the intersection of money, health, family, and in some cases religion. People don’t want to talk about these at a party, let alone with their employer or boss. Employers often have to be stewards of the law, of compliance, and of the bottom line. Those hats that employers have to wear are sometimes not well-suited to encouraging open, honest, safe conversations with employees. For this reason, it is sometimes beneficial to bring in outside researchers to help. Employees may feel safer sharing their true thoughts and feelings with a third party instead of their employer, which can generate more meaningful data and insights. 

How can human-centered design fuel financial inclusion? 

Human-centered design is aligned with inclusion because it is about understanding the needs of all people, but it still has to be intentional to be inclusive. The same biases that can permeate big research studies can also permeate research fueled by human-centered design. It’s important to acknowledge those factors and be intentional about mitigating biases. Some ways to do this include structuring conversations and questions to be inclusive. When researching small groups of participants, think about who is in that room, their varied experiences, and spend time with them asking open-ended questions. Be open to hearing what they have to say, including views that you may not be aware of or expecting. Then allow all these insights to inform any solutions you come up with.

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Carolyn.

Carolyn’s resources

Carolyn recommends the book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. She describes it as a small book that’s had a big impact on her thinking. It is an accessible text that paints a vivid picture of poverty in America, which is essential to learn how to ground yourself in the structures of this country.

She also recommends Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven. This book was one of the very first financial diaries. The authors’ primary insight is that we may think that people who don’t have much money don’t have an active financial life, when in fact the opposite is true, and the tighter money is the more active your money management must be. This book represents a profound shift in thinking for many. 

For those interested in learning more about human-centered design, Carolyn recommends IDEO’s human-centered design kit. And a lot of sticky notes to record your findings! 

You can get in touch with Carolyn directly at carolyn@femfinance.org and learn more at FemFinance.org.

Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Carolyn McMahon is not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #13: How to get the most for your health benefit dollars with Deb Gordon

by Leslie Harding | April 5, 2021

In this episode, we were joined by Aspen Institute Healthcare Innovators Fellow Deb Gordon, author of The Health Care Consumer’s Manifesto. Deb is a seasoned health insurance executive, and her research and writing have fueled her passion for helping Americans become savvy health care shoppers. We talked about how employers and brokers can help reduce healthcare costs by giving consumers expert guidance so they can feel confident as they shop for plans and healthcare services.

Understanding the U.S. healthcare system 

Deb’s career journey started in academia, where she studied bioethics and public health and found her passion for consumer insights. That academic foundation has informed her career and how she thinks about understanding consumer behavior. Deb went on to be the Head of Marketing for a Medicaid health plan, where she saw first-hand some of the issues people faced in shopping for and using health plans. She found that it’s hard to make insurance easy, because it simply isn’t. But there’s more to be done to help people buy and use it well. 

Deb took her dissatisfaction with the current U.S. healthcare system and turned it into action. As an Eisenhower Fellow, in 2013 she went to Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore to better understand their health systems. She found that in Australia and Singapore, consumers play a bigger role in their healthcare coverage than in the U.S. There is more widespread use of savings plans and consumers have more say over their spending, but there is also more of a sense of partnership with the government. In the U.S., we haven’t set up our health systems that way, in part because of cultural and political differences. We continue to have a system that focuses highly on individual responsibility and doesn’t have a strong sense of partnership with the insurer. 

The impact of cost-sharing on rising healthcare costs

There was a time that many people thought that higher cost-sharing would incentivize U.S. consumers to shop for less expensive healthcare and utilize their plans more efficiently, thus reducing costs. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Over the past decade, more and more cost-sharing responsibility has ended up on consumer’s shoulders, in both ACA  and employer-sponsored plans. The average deductible in 2019 for an individual plan was $1,931, and for a family it was $3,655. 

As a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2017, Deb saw that cost-sharing had risen, but nothing else had changed with it. Consumers were not more savvy or invested in their healthcare. Costs continued to rise, while cost-sharing suppressed utilization overall. Consumers have difficulty distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate utilization. Couple that with a fear of unexpected costs, and people are avoiding care, even if that care is essential to their well-being.

How employers can help reduce costs and foster goodwill 

As employers shift rising health plan costs to their employees, employees are aware that the value of their benefits has eroded over time. They blame policymakers and they blame their employer, leading to an erosion of goodwill in the workplace. 

However, there are some positive ways that employers are dealing with rising costs to help their employees. One example is a reimbursement program, where employers offer to pay up to a certain amount of a plan’s deductible. It does add some costs back in, but it can still be beneficial because while only some employees will use this perk, it acts as a safety net for everyone and helps to reduce financial anxiety. 

Another way that employers can help is by providing expert, personalized advice as employees shop for plans. Data shows that the vast majority of employees overbuy health insurance. Some people buy more coverage than they need because of uncertainty or fear, and some are confused about their options. An employer can help by providing resources, like access to an expert broker, who can help employees make economically rational decisions before they buy.  

Another option is to provide additional benefits, like Brella, that can help employees with unexpected healthcare costs. Supplemental insurance is an alternative to an HSA or an expensive low-deductible plan that can yield cost-savings while still providing better coverage. A solution like Brella can work in tandem with other interventions to help give  employees more peace of mind. 

Finally, employers can turn the lens on themselves and figure out how to make their workplaces physically and mentally healthy environments. COVID-19 has intensified mental health burdens, and as we come out of the pandemic, we may see more issues surface as people cope with their experiences during the past year. Employers can do a lot to make sure they foster kindness, compassion, and humanity in their workplaces. We are people when we go to work, and we are people when we go home. It’s time to make sure we recognize our mutual humanity at work so we can foster healthier teams and relationships. 

What’s next for Deb: Financial vulnerability index

In the rest of 2021, Deb plans on revisiting a project that the pandemic put on pause: working on developing a financial vulnerability index. Healthcare and financial well-being go hand-in-hand. The pandemic amplified awareness of how these two topics are interrelated, but there’s still room to increase public understanding of the specifics. Deb plans to develop a financial vulnerability index with the goal of better understanding how health consumers make financial decisions and creating solutions for some of the issues people face in this arena. 

“One of the things I’ve learned in my career… is that people with all the resources available to them can still feel vulnerable. Vulnerability can be tangible—folks who don’t have money or access to information or access to care—but it’s also a state of mind.” 

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Deb.

Deb’s resources

Deb recommends the book The Healing of America by T.R. Reid, calling it “one of the best healthcare books I’ve ever read.” It is a comparison of health systems around the world, told in a narrative style. The book delves into the structure of different healthcare systems and the cultures behind them. 

You can find Deb on Twitter @gordondeb, writing for Forbes, and at debgordon.com

Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Deb Gordon is not compensated, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #12: Benefits in the time of COVID-19 with Carol Harnett

In this episode, our guest is industry veteran, speaker, and trendspotter, Carol Harnett. Carol was the National Disability and Life Practice Leader at The Hartford and has been a trusted consultant and advisor for multiple organizations and industry leaders. Today she’s the President of the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA). In this wide-ranging interview, we dig into the latest CDA research to uncover how COVID-19 has impacted today’s working Americans and how benefits should evolve to address those needs. Here are the highlights from our conversation. 

How to manage change in a risk averse industry

Change is necessary for growth, but it can be really tough for people to navigate! Insurance is a fiscally conservative industry (for good reasons), so it’s especially challenging for the insurance industry to embrace new strategies and  innovation. But given how much has changed in the last year, It’s vital for everyone from carriers to employers to evolve benefit offerings to meet employees’ changing needs. 

So how do you make change happen in a slow-moving, risk-averse industry? 

As a forward-thinking optimist, Carol was always excited about change. However, she learned early in her career that it was important to temper her message in order to meet people where they were. Often people aren’t prepared to hear a radical new strategy, but rather than give up, Carol learned how to build a bridge between what her listeners already understood and the new opportunities on the horizon. People can often handle a stretch but not a leap.

“Change is one thing we can count on to happen in life, but it’s also the thing that so many people are afraid to do…I can think of a number of times in my career when I took what felt like a heavy risk but I thought, hey, this is what you’re hired for. If you stop doing what you think is important for the company and the audiences and customers they serve then you’re not doing your job.” 

How COVID-19 will affect employee benefits in 2021 and beyond

The CDA has been doing research and reporting on the effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. A few trends point toward a dramatic increase in healthcare, disability, and life insurance utilization in the years ahead. 

First, the data showed a huge increase in the need for mental healthcare. According to data sourced by the federal government’s Household Pulse Survey, 40% of workers reported experiencing anxiety and depression, compared to 10% prior to the pandemic. An article the CDA published in partnership with MDGuidelines is available here.  

Second, many people reported postponing healthcare, including preventive screenings. Delayed care means that some people aren’t getting care they need, which could require costly interventions down the road. Fewer preventive screenings are leading to a situation where cancer diagnoses, for example, appear to be down, but it may be that cancer simply isn’t being caught and will show up later in more advanced phases. 

Lastly, research shows that 10% of people who’ve had COVID-19, even if they were asymptomatic, are experiencing long term health problems tied to the disease. We don’t know yet how big of an impact this will have in the short-, medium-, and long-term on health, disability, and life insurance benefits. A summary of their research findings can be found here

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Carol. 

Carol’s resources

Carol often finds herself reading whitepapers and academic research to keep a pulse on factors that will impact the benefits space before it hits the news or shows up in books. She mentioned this study in the episode, and (as an independent herself), she advises readers to look past the partisan frame to glean the lessons revealed in the data. As far as her bookshelf, Carol points to Blue Ocean Strategy as a title that had a big impact and still resonates with her. 

You can check out Carol’s work with the Council for Disability Awareness on their website at https://disabilitycanhappen.org. They publish research articles here first.  Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Carol Harnett and the Council for Disability Awareness are not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

AccuRisk Solutions Partners with Brella Insurance to Bring Innovative Supplemental Health Insurance to Texas Employers

March 16, 2021 09:56 AM Eastern Daylight Time

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AccuRisk Solutions LLC, an industry leader in providing creative and cost-effective solutions to its national network of broker partners, is pleased to announce that they have teamed up with Brella Insurance, Inc. (“Brella”) to offer a new supplemental health insurance benefit to Texas-based employers. The new product, AccuRisk Supplemental Health Powered by Brella, is the first initiative to result from AccuRisk’s subsidiary, AccuRisk Ancillary Solutions that was established in October 2020. Led by Joyce Segall, Ancillary Solutions’ focus is to deliver innovative health solutions.

“They bring a totally different dynamic to the supplemental health market that simplifies that process for the member.”

“I think the complexity of the supplemental health products out there today can be overwhelming to employees and that’s why we’re really excited about Brella,” said AccuRisk CEO Daniel Boisvert. “They bring a totally different dynamic to the supplemental health market that simplifies that process for the member.”

“With Financial Wellness being top of mind, Brella’s simple and easy to use supplemental coverage provides cash to employees when they need it most,” said AccuRisk Ancillary Solutions President, Joyce Segall.

Veer Gidwaney, Founder and CEO of Brella Insurance, commented: “The harsh reality is that unexpected medical issues will almost certainly create financial distress for American workers and their families, even with great health insurance. Wide-ranging supplemental health insurance is more important than ever, and we are thrilled to team up with a market leader like AccuRisk to deliver modern solutions that better protect our joint clients.”

AccuRisk Supplemental Health powered by Brella will be available to employers in Texas starting today. Visit www.joinbrella.com/accurisk to learn more.

About AccuRisk Solutions LLC

AccuRisk Solutions LLC is a Chicago-based Managing General Underwriter focused on providing its producers with innovative insurance products and outstanding customer service. The AccuRisk executive management team is composed of proven leaders within the industry who are driven to provide better results for clients. AccuRisk partners with leading insurance carriers and healthcare visionaries to provide a comprehensive array of healthcare and employee benefit solutions. Their objective is to assist producers in providing their employer clients with unique and cost-effective solutions. Visit www.accurisksolutions.com.

About Brella

Founded in 2019, Brella is modernizing supplemental health benefits to build a world where health hardship doesn’t create financial burdens. Brella’s simple supplemental plan covers 13,000+ conditions and pays cash on diagnosis that can be used for anything you need on the road to recovery. Learn more at joinbrella.com and follow @brellainsurance.

Contacts

Joyce Segall
312-500-4514
JSegall@accurisksolutions.com

What Is Critical Illness Insurance, and Do You Need It?

by Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | March 17, 2021

While an increasing average life expectancy in the U.S. is certainly a good thing, getting older can come at a high cost. For decades, people have turned to critical illness insurance plans to help offset the costs of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and other serious illnesses that are more likely to occur as we get older. Rising medical costs and insurance plans with high deductibles create a scary gap in coverage for aging Americans. Critical illness insurance was meant to help cover costs when traditional insurance coverage ended.

Sounds like a good plan to have, right? Not necessarily, especially when you consider how times have changed and what critical illness insurance actually covers. It’s not uncommon today to see critical illness benefits in the $25,000 or $50,000 range. But since today’s health insurance plans no longer have annual limits, such big payouts may be more than you actually need. Plus, most critical illness plans include only a handful of the most dangerous or life-threatening illnesses, so if you’re diagnosed with one that’s not on the list, you aren’t covered. 

So, there may be some drawbacks to critical illness insurance that might have you wondering: Should I get critical illness insurance to round out my health coverage?

Is Critical Illness Insurance Worth It?

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to enroll in a critical illness insurance plan.

1. Does Critical Illness offer the coverage you need?

As mentioned, CI plans offer big payouts for a few illnesses, but they typically cover only 4%* of conditions that would require urgent medical attention. CI plans also don’t cover injuries. If you’re younger and active, you might want to look for a supplemental health insurance plan that covers more conditions — including both illnesses and injuries — instead.

2. Does a Critical Illness plan meet your financial needs?

The average working American has an annual deductible of $1,644. This number is even higher for families with employer-sponsored health insurance. Meanwhile, only 39% of Americans can afford to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense. If your primary exposure is your health insurance cost-sharing responsibility, consider working on your savings or invest in a supplemental health insurance plan that pays cash for more health issues that could put you in a position of owing thousands toward your deductible.

3. Is the plan going to give you a good experience?

Unfortunately today’s typical insurance experience is complex, frustrating, and not all that consumer friendly. When it comes to the type of conditions covered under a critical illness plan, you may be asked to jump through a lot of hoops to file a claim. From confusing forms to long payout times to rushed customer service, today’s experience leaves a lot to be desired. If you’ve been through a stressful medical encounter, the last thing you want is a stressful insurance experience. 

Take the time to understand the claims process and how the insurance company supports you in these tough times. Go with a plan that offers straightforward claims and payout processes so you can actually reap the rewards promised to you. And go with a plan that offers members the support they need, especially when they’re critically ill and need it the most.

Brella does just that. We are a modern alternative to critical illness insurance for people who want additional supplemental coverage that helps ease the burden of your health plan’s deductible, copays, and other expenses that crop up when you’re sick or injured. Our plan offers wide-ranging coverage (beyond just a handful of the most critical conditions), affordable premiums to suit any budget, an easy claims submission process, and fast payouts. Plus, you can work with the same Brella Concierge throughout your membership. In short, Brella is an innovative supplemental plan designed to give you the coverage you need and the peace of mind you deserve.

If you’re interested in Brella, you can read more about our plans here or ask your employer or broker to get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com.

*Source: Statistic aggregated based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) annual reports on emergency room diagnoses for working-age adults in the U.S.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #11: Health Benefits 2021 Outlook with Amit Bansal

by Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | March 15, 2021

In this episode, our guest Amit Bansal, Partner at Digitalis Ventures and an investor in Brella, shares his view of the health benefits ecosystem right now—including the trends, opportunities, and challenges that will matter for benefits advisors and administrators in 2021 and beyond. 

The Future of Health Benefits in 2021

Health benefits are profoundly impacted by the models that govern how healthcare is delivered, how accessible it is to your employees, and what it costs. After spending years in the health industry from GE Healthcare to working for a healthcare startup that delivers care in rural India, Amit developed a passion for businesses that make healthcare more accessible, improving health outcomes, containing costs, and tailoring healthcare to specific sub-populations, particularly those that have been historically underserved. Today as a Partner at Digitalis Ventures, Amit and his team see several trends, or structural shifts, that are shaping the needs and opportunities on the horizon. Here are a few highlights from our conversation.

Digital health is here to stay.

Healthcare has been adopting digital technology for the past decade in some basic ways, such as electronic health records, online directories, and mobile apps that simplify some healthcare services. Financial services, insurance, and benefits providers have done the same. But, according to Amit, we’re now beginning to get beyond basic digitization to imagine tech-enabled healthcare services, insurance products, financial tools, and other benefits that were not previously possible. These types of businesses are exciting to Amit and his team because they have potential for non-linear growth in the next few years. They also love these companies’ potential to drive social good for communities that haven’t historically had access to the healthcare they need. 

COVID-19 was a tipping point for home-based care.

While telehealth was around for years prior, the service has seen massive growth since the pandemic quarantined families at home for most of 2020. The disruption in our normal routines allowed people to consider alternatives to traditional in-office care, such as talking to a doctor on the phone. Amit believes while we may see more patients return to the doctors’ office, telehealth will be a fixture moving forward. New solutions that bring healthcare into the home rather than bringing the patient to the doctor’s office also have huge potential.

Personalized care for specific sub-populations

In a past episode, we spoke with Dick Mucci about how quickly employees’ needs are evolving. It’s more important than ever for employers to ensure that their benefits are still aligned and delivering value to their team. 

Amit and his team are particularly interested in companies that deliver healthcare and benefits that are more thoughtfully designed with a specific population in mind. Can we deliver healthcare in a way that’s ideal for men, and can we design a healthcare experience specifically for women? Can we build solutions that specifically address the needs of local BIPOC communities? 

Listen to the full episode for more of Amit’s health benefits 2021 outlook, including a list of new benefits every employer and broker should know about. 

Amit’s resources

When we asked him for a resource that had a big impact on him, Amit mentioned Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke. Drawn from her experiences as a professional poker player, Annie explores how beliefs and biases color our decision-making and outlines a path to smarter decision-making practices in life and work.  

You can check out Amit’s work at Digitalis on their website at https://digitalisventures.com. Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Amit Bansal and Digitalis Ventures are not compensated, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to follow or subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Episode #10: The Case For Benefits Navigation with Paula Bush of Rightway Healthcare

by Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | March 8, 2021

It’s no secret that employees often struggle to understand their health benefits and the choices available to them. After years of pioneering new solutions with Accolade, Haven, and now Rightway Healthcare, Paula Bush is more convinced than ever that benefits navigation support and patient advocacy are the keys to making health benefits work better for employees and their employers. 

Why benefits navigation?

After starting her career in a patient-facing role at a physician’s office, Paula migrated over to the payer side, where she worked in member services. The longer she managed member services operations where the goal was volume and efficiency, the more she felt she was drifting away from serving the member in a personalized way.

Eventually, Paula realized that there wasn’t a space where consumers could turn for advice from an advocate who had solely their best interest in mind.

“When you want to buy a house, you get a realtor. If you’re gonna get financial support, you get a financial advisor. Why in healthcare do you have to become an expert when you or a loved one is going through something and you’re at a point in time where you’re least likely to be able to absorb information and figure out all the logistics of navigating where to go and what to do? You need a go-to person who is an expert in that space to help guide you through the process.”

Pioneering patient advocacy solutions

With this consumer frustration in mind, Paula jumped at the chance to join the founding team at Accolade in 2008 to build a benefits navigation solution. “It was a risk, but the minute we introduced the model and started seeing the value that it was providing to the members that we served, I knew I was in the right place.” The team experimented and learned a lot as they carved out a whole new benefit amidst all the complexity of the healthcare industry.

Today at Rightway Healthcare, Paula and her team are designing patient advocacy solutions with a consumer-centric approach. Healthcare is personal, so Rightway’s patient advocates take into account the member’s health situation as well as all the resources that are available to them in order to bring forward solutions and options that can be knit together into a plan to get the care they need. 

What does the consumer really need?

When it comes to building new solutions, “Don’t build what you think people need. Understand what people need and then build the technology to meet those needs,” Paula says.  

Technology is ultimately a tool that allows Paula and her team at Rightway to create a personalized approach to patient solutions. They’ve learned from the industry not only what consumers want and need but also what employers need. Employers appreciate an easy-to-integrate solution that doesn’t blow up their benefit ecosystem. So Rightway developed a cost-effective solution that can easily wrap around an employer’s existing benefits program.

Today at Rightway, they do predictive analytics that drives “next-best actions” based on the individual’s needs. They have successfully increased the healthcare utilization of the consumers who need their support most. They also help identify high-quality and cost-effective providers, going beyond reviews to bring in outcomes data and other factors to identify the physicians who are delivering real value that balances health outcomes and cost.

To hear more about what Paula and her team are up to at Rightway Healthcare, including a new PBM solution, listen to the full episode.

Paula’s Resources

While there are many books that have helped Paula grow in her career along the way, her current read is called The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham. It’s about avoiding those dumb mistakes that sabotage growth, profit, and business success. 

To learn more about Rightway Healthcare you can visit their website at https://rightwayhealthcare.com/. Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Paula Bush is an advisor to Brella, but she and Rightway Healthcare have no other affiliation with Brella or Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

4 Things to Know Before Enrolling in an Accident Insurance Policy

by Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | March 3, 2021

For those with active lifestyles, high-risk jobs, or accident-prone kids, accident insurance may seem like a no-brainer. Chances are, it’s been part of your benefits package for years, and you keep renewing it just in case. But if you haven’t used your accident plan, have found that your claims are denied when you try to use it, or don’t understand what it even does, then you’re not alone.

So what is accident insurance exactly, and why do you need it?

Accident insurance is a type of supplemental health insurance plan designed to pay a one-time lump sum that you can use as a cushion against expenses your health insurance doesn’t cover. But accident plans typically offer only limited coverage and have stringent rules you must follow before receiving a benefit. Consider these four factors before enrolling in or renewing an accident insurance policy so you don’t get stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for you.

1. Understand what’s covered.

Did you know that accident plans cover only 19%* of conditions that require urgent medical attention? So it’s possible you or a family member will need to go to urgent care or the ER for a health issue that isn’t covered by your accident insurance plan. What’s more, traditional accident plans are designed to cover accidental injuries, not illnesses. Your benefits depend on the type of injury you have, such as fractures, lacerations, and dislocations. Make sure you understand what’s considered an accident for your accident insurance by reading the policy documents.

2. Make sure you know how to file a claim.

Having accident insurance might provide peace of mind, but that can quickly turn stressful if it’s not easy to file a claim. Look for an online or paper claim form, and be sure to review the instructions. How long will it take to receive your benefit? What kind of documentation is required? This documentation is technically called your “proof of loss,” and knowing what’s required in advance can help you collect the right information from your providers along the way to ensure your claim is approved.

3. Evaluate the premiums.

Accident insurance — like most supplemental health insurance plans — is considered a voluntary benefit, which means the premiums are often paid by you (the employee). Check out what it will cost you per paycheck, per month, and per year, and consider whether those dollars are best spent on an accident-only plan or something else that covers a broader spectrum of illness and injury.

4. Look for a plan with broader coverage.

It’s impossible to know for sure whether you or someone in your family will be accidentally injured in the coming year. Instead of gambling on accident insurance, you could look for a supplemental health insurance plan with broader coverage.

Brella, for example, covers 13,000 conditions, including all kinds of injuries and illnesses. In fact, we cover 76% of conditions that would require urgent medical attention. Plans with more wide-ranging coverage have a greater chance of being useful if you or a loved one has an unexpected health issue during the year.

The bottom line? Before you sign up for any kind of accident insurance or supplemental plan, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what’s covered, how to claim your benefits, and what it will cost. Then, look for the best way to put your hard-earned dollars to work as you prepare financially for tomorrow’s health issues.

If you’re interested in Brella, you can read more about our plans here or ask your employer or broker to get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com.

*Source: Statistic aggregated based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) annual reports on emergency room diagnoses for working-age adults in the U.S.

Better Benefits Episode #9: The Future of Primary Care with Joe Neil of Eden Health

Eden Health is on a mission to make your employees healthier with enhanced primary care that fills the gaps left by traditional insurance and provider networks. In this episode, Eden Health’s VP of Sales, Joe Neil, joins us to share how their technologists, insurance experts, and providers are managing to deliver better health for employees and a better healthcare benefit that helps employers retain talent.

The gaps left by traditional primary care

After spending nearly a decade in the insurance business, Joe craved an opportunity to work with a tech supported solution that would help employees understand and get more value out of their health insurance. When he stumbled across the founding team at Eden Health, he jumped on board to help them scale their exciting new primary care solution. We started by asking Joe about the problems they’re looking to solve.

“49% of Americans have a stressful experience when it comes to the healthcare and insurance space,” Joe said. Whether that’s selecting their health insurance plan or finding a provider for preventive or acute medical care, consumers are struggling. 

It starts with getting access to a provider. But even when employees get access to a traditional primary care doctor, visits are often one-off transactions rather than an ongoing conversation about your care plan. If you need to go see a specialist, you’re on your own to figure out which specialist you can see and how your health plan will cover it. 

Eden Health’s Primary Care Solution

“Our vision is to make sure that every American can have a relationship with a trusted health provider.”

Eden Health’s enhanced primary care includes direct primary care, insurance navigation, and behavioral health, including talk therapy. Beyond that, they do care coordination to help members get care they may need from a specialist. Eden Health’s care teams act as advocates for the member’s health and they watch out for the member’s wallet, too, helping them save money where they can. 

They also work hard to make primary care more convenient. Members engage over Eden Health’s mobile app where they can speak with a provider on their care team. They can also come to a brick and mortar location in NY, NJ, and Chicago or visit a pop up location at a job site or at their office. However, since March of 2020, two thirds of care has been delivered virtually through their app so that members can get care without leaving home. 

Why better primary care matters for employers

By guiding employees through the healthcare system, Eden Health helps reduce the cost of repeat visits and duplicative testing and imaging services. Consistent preventive care can also help catch health issues earlier, resulting in less costly interventions and less time away from work.

Employers who implement Eden Health’s enhanced primary care see an average of 66% employee engagement—a much better participation rate than employers typically see with other ancillary benefits. 

Adapting to COVID-19

COVID-19 created a unique challenge for the traditional healthcare system because suddenly more people than ever needed regular COVID tests to go to work or travel. Eden Health was able to respond to this demand quickly by setting up convenient testing locations on job sites. They’re also prepared to help distribute the COVID vaccine.

To hear more about what Eden Health has in store for 2021, listen to the full episode.

Joe’s Resources

One book that has stood the test of time for Joe is The Maverick and His Machine by Kevin Maney. The book tells the story of Tomas Watson Sr. and the founding of IBM.  While the IBM salesman is a bit “old school,” Joe takes inspiration from the way they scaled their company with a focus on excellence and conviction around their products.    

To learn more about Eden Health you can visit their website at http://edenhealth.com. Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Joe Neil and Eden Health are not compensated, affiliated with, nor endorsed by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

11 Books Every Benefit Leader Should Read in 2021

By Laura Cave, Director of Marketing at Brella | February 24, 2021

We launched the Better Benefits podcast to gather wisdom from today’s top insurance and benefits leaders. We’ve interviewed industry veterans and insurtech CEOs who are working hard to make benefits work better for employers and their teams. Before we conclude these conversations, we always take a minute to get nosy about the books that helped them get where they are today. We ask: 

“What book or resource had a transformative impact on you either personally or professionally that you think everyone should read?”

Here is a roundup of all the books that have been recommended so far. We also list the impressive titles these leaders have authored themselves. Some are healthcare industry-specific, and others are classic and just-released books packed with wisdom. We hope they inspire and equip you to take your life and work to the next level this year.

Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Our own Chief Insurance Officer, Amanda Turcotte, recommended this book because it had a huge impact on her when she read it as a young professional. It offers both inspiration and practical advice for how to ask for what you want in your life and work. 

Competing Against Luck by Clayton M Christensen

In her book Busy Bee: Queen Bee, former Segment President of Humana, Beth Bierbower, advocates for carving out time to read in the midst of career and family responsibilities. At the top of her reading list is Christensen’s book. He argues that your customer “hires” you to do a job that meets a need. Understanding the real job your customer has hired you to do is the key insight to successfully growing a company and building long lasting relationships with customers at premium prices. 

Truman by Dave McCullough and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Former Lincoln Financial Group Protection President, Dick Mucci, recommends reading the biographies of great leaders. He’s particularly inspired by leaders who have faced extremely challenging situations. Recent favorites include biographies of American Presidents who led our nation through conflicts like the Civil War and WWII.

The Price We Pay by Marty Makary and The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Dave Chase, founder and CEO of Health Rosetta, has authored a couple of books that are essential reading for benefits leaders, including The CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream and his most recent book, Relocalizing Healthcare. He graciously provided us with a link to download the books for free on our recent episode.

As for what’s had a big impact on him as a leader, Dave recommends Makary’s book as an essential primer to understand the challenges in healthcare. He turned to Holiday’s book for inspiration on navigating life’s challenges with the wisdom of the ancient Stoics.

The Healing Organization by Raj Sisodia

Salary Finance’s Chief Development Officer, Anita Ward, recommended this new book after loving the author’s previous work. In this new title, Sisodia argues that a business at its best can be a healing force and a source of joy in society. This has been a huge inspiration to Anita and the team as they’ve been building Salary Finance.

No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings

Alex Frommeyer of Beam Dental recommended the Netflix leader’s new book, No Rules Rules. In it, Hastings presses deeper into the question of how to create company culture that drives success. The book challenges a lot of cultural norms that companies unthinkingly perpetuate. For anyone who wants to spend more time contemplating their company culture and then intentionally designing the culture for a specific outcome, this book will help. 

Catch any of the episodes you missed on your favorite podcast platform or here on our blog. Note, these recommendations are for informational and educational purposes only. This is not an ad and Brella receives no compensation through the links in this post.