About Kevin Richardson
Kevin has been a leader in the employee benefits industry for 35 years. Successful in building revenue, brand, strategy; developing markets, teams and relationships, He has a national presence in the carrier, third party administrator, broker and consultant spaces. Experienced in sales management, underwriting and talent acquisition, Kevin identifies and leverages individual strengths to foster winning team cultures and organizational successes. Contact Kevin Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org, 630-542-6616.
About Healthy Business Group
Healthy Business Group (HBG) provides employees with enhanced access to services and resources to navigate a complex healthcare system and other tools that address the unique challenges facing today’s employees and their families. HBG delivers proven solutions for employers focused on having healthier employees who are more engaged and productive at work and in life. Leveraging our employee engagement experience, our team assists in the selection of the right programs based on the employer’s corporate culture to decrease healthcare costs and increase employee wellbeing. As a result, our clients have a proven track record of realizing a true return on investment in these programs. Visit https://www.hbgnow.com/.
Medical Travel & Digital Health News (MTDHN): Tell me about how you got involved in HBG, your role and interest in healthcare benefits.
Kevin Richardson (KR): I came to HBG a year ago, after being at Cigna. Essentially, they were looking to expand their footprint. I have a pretty strong network nationally in the broker consulting, TPA and insurance payer space. I was the CEO of a third-party administrator in Chicago, and I’ve had national sales roles at United Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente.
As the chief growth officer at HBG, I try to expand distribution through multiple channels, such as the TPA channel, the regional health plan channel, brokers and consultants and any other distribution partners in our industry. Typically, I always work through intermediaries. For example, Aetna would come to us and say, “Hey, we’re going to embed three of your programs for our fully insured plans.”
MTDHN: What’s the great portfolio of services that you bring them?
KR: We bring wellness solutions across the spectrum, from telehealth and emotional well-being to workout programs and financial wellness.
MTDHN: How do you define wellness?
KR: Any program that enhances the well-being of the individual. It serves as a supplement of health insurance with specific types of programs, such as emotional well-being, diabetes management and so forth.
MTDHN: Do you bundle these programs?
KR: They can buy standalone or a bundle for self-insured or fully insured and bolt it onto their programs.
MTDHN: How has the receptivity been in the marketplace to wellness?
KR: The COVID-19 pandemic slowed it down, for sure. I always say, people are a lot more worried about the 20% of the workforce they had to lay off, rather than tinkering with their benefits or adding or replacing programs.
But we’re seeing a nice uptick in activity this first quarter. People are looking at these programs to enhance the benefit programs they have in place, especially with so many people working from home. Some of the well-being and mental health wellness benefits are much more popular than they have been in the past.
Receptivity is better than it was last year, I think, because many employers are realizing that these supplemental programs can make a difference, not only in the well-being area, but also for targeting specific conditions. With diabetes, for example, the percentage of people who are diabetic in a population is 8-10%, which drives a large number of claims.
MTDHN: Tell us more about that.
KR: We have three different companies that do strictly navigation solutions. An employee calls in and says, “Hey, I’ve got these issues.” The navigation coach will point them to a health coach or access to supplies or sign them up with a dietician—or whatever will address their particular issue.
We also have a specific solution, Livongo, which just got bought by Teladoc. The navigation people can direct an employee to Livongo, too, and they might do the outreach. One way or another, we’ve got them covered.
MTDHN: Are you always looking for new solutions? For example, if another program came along that was competitive to Livongo, would you consider it?
KR: Yes. That’s why we have three different navigation companies. They’re all a little different than the other, but we like to have, typically, two solutions for each specific condition. We don’t sell a product. We simply partner with solution companies.
MTDHN: Do you offer medical travel?
KR: We do not have medical travel right now.
MTDHN: Tell me how these benefits are offered.
KR: It’s usually year-round. Over the last four or five years I’ve seen a growing number of companies doing this to avoid HR being overwhelmed on that effective anniversary date, especially midsize companies that may have three or four people working in HR who are generalists. They’re handling everything from payroll to workers’ comp.
I encourage people to add wellness programs and roll out in September. If that works then they can roll out more before January 1.
MTDHN: Do intermediaries or employers come to you and say, “We have a problem with specialty drugs or cardiac issues. Can you find us a product that will address these?”
KR: Most of the time it’s brokers who come to us saying, “Hey, I have a group with 300 employees, and they’re looking to replace a wellness program or add someone.” If they say we already have a telehealth solution, we’re fine with that. We play nice and let them pick one of four options.
MTDHN: Tell me what you’re doing with the Healthy Truckers Association.
KR: I’ve been on their advisory board and was their insurance expert. We put together a revenue share model, which they liked. They asked me for sales and distribution help. It was mutually beneficial. I try to help them from a sales standpoint and navigate the broker consulting world for them as well.
MTDHN: What is the mindset of employers and intermediaries today? Are they more receptive to wellness? Is it mostly voluntary benefits?
KR: They are mostly covered benefits and not voluntary, although there is an aspect of that. What we do works well, especially in the mid and small market space, where they have about 10% of employees with diabetes, 15% with emotional problems and 20% with weight problems.
Not everybody has the same problems but there is some overlap. It is an easier sale to go to the CEO, especially in a self-funded basis, and say, “For about $4 a month, I can give you six wellness solutions that are going to hit the majority of your employee health issues.”
As for your other question, we do now offer some ROI so that they see a real cost savings with some of these programs.
The workout program where you have virtual workout and video fitness is a nice way to promote a healthier lifestyle, but it’s also inexpensive—30-40 cents per employee per month. Something like Livongo, though, can drive results and save real money. It’s only 10% of your employee population, but they might generate 30-40% of the spend. This is what brokers like about it.
So, yes, receptivity to wellness has changed because today CFOs can see the ROI, while employers can see how they can help someone with comorbidities and improve his or her productivity and quality of life.
MTDHN: Can you talk a little bit about financial wellness?
KR: We have two companies that we use for that: Bright Diamond and Saavi. They both offer programs and apps for individuals. They help employees handle their finances, such as debt or long-term insurance or long-term disability.
MTDHN: Do you do any veterinary benefits? Or legal aid benefits?
KR: We do not do any of those, no. We’re looking at pet insurance now because that’s a growing area. We’ve looked at about 200 over the last six or seven years. I’m helping to bring on about three or four maybe this year.
MTDHN: Tell me a little bit about the process. Let’s say a TPA brings in a whole portfolio of benefits that he or she thinks would be good for wellness. How does the employee choose or work with you?
KR: The decisions are made from the programs at the employer level. The employer will say, “We’re going to offer these three programs.” We then engage the employees from there, doing the open enrollment meetings and walking them through how to enroll online. This takes the burden off the broker. A lot of brokers swear by what we do.
MTDHN: How do you market your services to brokers?
KR: We do webinars every few months and partner with one of the vendors to get them some visibility. We use social media, mainly LinkedIn for that. We also have search engine capability to see how many people open the emails and follow up with them. I have a salesperson in New York. Myself, the president and COO sell in our own ways, but I’m the main contact. I look for that distribution channel as part of a one-to-many type of selling.
MTDHN: Do you see any area that is up and coming in wellness?
KR: There’s been big uptick this past year in mental health and mental well-being. A lot of people are buying our mindfulness and meditation solutions and connecting online with mental health professionals.