AmeriGas pumped big savings while expanding benefits

NEW ORLEANS — Fuel distributor AmeriGas hired a third-party entity to walk its 8,300 employees through its health insurance options and it saved money in the process.

AmeriGas was able to purchase long-term disability coverage for all 8,300 of its employees after contracting with healthcare management group Accolade in 2016. Since signing on for Accolade’s services, the fuel company saved 15% of its usual healthcare expenses, according to Andy Rosa, director of benefits and workforce health at AmeriGas, which primarily distributes propane for business and personal use.

“We were able to buy employees a benefit they didn’t have before because this service saved us money,” Rosa said on Tuesday at this year’s Benefits Forum & Expo, sponsored by Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser.

Accolade creates websites to collect and store medical and benefit data to provide a client’s employees with an easy-to-use digital platform to access medical benefits. Rosa reported that 70% more AmeriGas employees used the online service after Accolade began engaging with its workers.

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Accolade also offers a call center staffed by former teachers and social workers that client employees can call for medical benefit advice. These staffers consult with doctors and nurses to direct employees to the appropriate medical service, and encourage the use of preventative services that can help reduce expensive emergency room visits.

“Blending data and human intelligence creates hyper-targeted experiences that can segment, identify and engage employees like never before,” said Sarah Martino, vice president of product and user experience at Accolade.

Other Accolade clients include Comcast, Lowe’s, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Allegiant, and Temple University Health System.

The majority of AmeriGas’s 700 locations are in rural areas that have limited access to healthcare, said Rosa. Employees in these regions are less likely to visit primary care physicians to prevent medical conditions from escalating to emergencies. Since clinics are less expensive than hospital visits, AmeriGas contracted Accolade to encourage primary care usage among its employees.

“Finding time for a manager to talk about health benefits is a challenge in this business,” Rosa said. “We wanted our employees to have a one-stop shop that could appropriately direct their needs.”

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