Without exception, when I am talking with business owners, health care comes up in the conversation. Be it the ceaseless march of increasing premiums and reduced benefits, the uncertainty driven by our President and Congress as to what even the near term future holds in terms of mandated coverage and small business liability, or the morass of paperwork-- an administrative sinkhole even (very) small policies create-- small business owners and individuals, find this a perplexing and frustrating aspect of business life. In more than a few discussions, health care benefits have been cited as a primary reason to "avoid" expansion, or sadly, "force" contraction. I don't see anything on the horizon to allay the dysfunctional politics of Washington in this area, but I have found a start up which may truly streamline the medical paper tiger!
My personal experience mirrors friends and clients. The sea of paperwork-- EOBs, "final" bills which aren't in fact "final," revised bills, late bills, denied benefit notices, and more-- all accumulate quickly for even fairly routine medical visits. Should you experience a medical event requiring multiple doctor visits and/or tests, the ensuing paperwork can send you back to your doctor for blood pressure treatment (literally). Over the years, I have prevailed upon someone very special in my life who seems able to sort through the pile of paperwork every few months and calmly declare, "You owe $XXX to this group and $XXX to this doctor.... let these bills sit another thirty days, you don't have everything yet...." after shuffling the paperwork around the table. I think the ability to make sense of this morass of bureaucracy falls somewhere between a gift and a curse; I am always thankful for the assistance and then "blindly" pay what I am told.... Cake Health's founder, Rebecca Woodcock, began the company out of frustrations born from trying to help a friend navigate the medical and billing inefficiencies while being diagnosed with epilepsy. I relate....
Looking at my personal finances, my very mediocre health care coverage from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee chews up an extremely significant chunk of my annual budget! Premiums amounting to over $6,000/year (and climbing), coupled with skyrocketing deductibles, makes even a "minor" knee problem or other medical "event" also a very significant financial event. I want and need to have a better understanding of this aspect of my financial "health" and so do you!
Cake Health is a new online start up intended to make your life a little easier (not to mention free up an hour or so in my friend's world every few weeks. This video, which can be found on the company's web site explains the company's reason for being:
I think of Cake Health as Mint for my health care world. (Not coincidentally, this company's founder is a frequent contributor to Mint in the area of health care finances.) If you haven't used Intuit's online, free, financial tracking service, Mint, you should explore it immediately. Cake Health provides a somewhat similar service. After setting up your Cake Health Account and establishing your insurance provider(s), the company will begin tracking your medical financials-- deductibles, inflows, outflows, EOBs, the works. If you get electronic or traditional paperwork from a medical provider, you can send it to Cake Health and the service attempts to match the bill (if appropriate) and track it. What a concept and what a time saver!
Given the proper input, the company can also offer advise and reminders. What benefits are expiring? Is there a better policy for you given your usage, health and dependents? Are you spending appropriately against your various policy coverage areas (e.g. Have you used your two dental visits over the past twelve months before they expire?).
There are some limitations to the service at this point. First, this is a fairly new company and they do not support all health care providers. Over the last month, quite a few additional insurers have been listed, but you will have to check to see if your specific insurer(s) are included by visiting the Cake Health web site.
You may be put in the waiting room! I signed up for this service weeks ago and wasn't given immediate access. It appears that the company is increasing its user base as it ramps up infrastructure and provider support. While not listed as a public beta, it has the feel of this type of roll out (which I generally applaud). Companies who open the doors and underwhelm are the biggest disappointment and this is a field where confidence is a must which leads me to my third concern.
For this program to work, like Mint, you must provide the company with sensitive, private, information. The company is reputable and they address privacy concerns in their FAQ. I am satisfied. The site itself is highly secure, using state of the art encryption. Your personal information is never sold or shared and you receive email notifications of all account changes and updates. Further, your data is completely inaccessible to employers and insurance providers. I am willing to put my personal trust in this company and believe you can too.
One other fact worth noting, currently the service is provided free of charge. There is no indication that Cake Health intends to morph into a paid, premium, service. When was the last time you received a medical benefit for free? I suppose there is a first for everything!
Can you see this service as a benefit to you and your employees? Do health care benefits play a role in your company's growth strategy? Is there some other form of simplification in the medical universe you would like to see tackled? I invite you to join the discussion by commenting directly. If you find this article of interest, please share it through Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
I currently participate in the Amazon Associates Program and certain item links included within this post may tie to this affiliate program.
Companies: Cake Health, Intuit
This commentary is not meant as an endorsement of any company or to provide financial advice. If the author has any financial interest in any company mentioned at the time of this article’s posting, it will be explicitly noted. I welcome feedback and comments.
Music Row Tech will never sell, give away or use your personal information with third parties.
All rights reserved @2012, Music Row Tech (MRT). Any reproduction without the author's consent is prohibited.