Former telemedicine company TouchCare is moving into the health advocacy market in order to assist clients with reducing healthcare cost. To head the transition, the company brought on former vice president of Namely Benefits, Rob LaHayne, as its new CEO.

The first question LaHayne asked upon joining TouchCare was, “What can we do that would help the employer and employee, as consumers, that also can be traced back to a financial savings on medical insurance for self-insured employers?”

The answer, he believes, is to stand out from the competition by providing consumerism guidance that other health advocacy businesses tend to lack. The goal, he says, is to ensure employers understand the way their health plan works and how it’s financially impacted by employee decisions.

“Just be an independent third party that is on the employer’s side,” LaHayne says.

The health advocacy team at TouchCare handles everything related to health benefits. If employees have a question regarding a bill for healthcare services, TouchCare can handle the negotiation process between the provider and the insurance company.

Bloomberg/file photo

LaHayne says he wants the health advocacy business to run as a true concierge service for the employer and employee.

“If you have a question about your EOB or what was paid, we can answer that for you,” LaHayne says. “If you are looking for site of service or you need to get a procedure done, we will go out and price the options that are in network and tell you how they apply to your deductible, out-of-pocket max and we will book the appointment for you if you want.”

As one of TouchCare’s first clients, GateHouse Media’s Director of HR Programs Suzanne England, says she cherishes the partnership the company has built with TouchCare and their health advocacy program.

With more than 11,000 employees across the United States and 400 physical locations in 39 states, England says the company has already received positive feedback from employees in three of their largest locations.

“We did a lot of different types of engagement activities, from your typical sort of email and mail campaigns — funded through TouchCare — to webinars to provide education on health advocacy,” England says. “It has certainly reduced the burden on HR and the stress that surrounds healthcare.”

England says the advocates provided by TouchCare have assisted in training the HR staff on the importance of consumerism and how they can then advise employees on what health plan is cost effective and necessary for their needs.

“We have trained our HR teams in a sort of ‘train the trainer’ model so they can weave in the ideas of consumerism into our onboarding process,” England says.

In addition to GateHouse Media’s largest locations — Florida, Texas and Massachusetts — England says the company plans to roll out TouchCare’s services to another eight states in December.

Broker relationship
Chelsea Peruccio, assistant vice president at Lockton Companies, says health advocacy has become a very popular service among self-insured employers looking to navigate a multitude of benefit offerings.

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Peruccio adds that while she has discussed TouchCare’s involvement in the health advocacy space in several roundtable discussions with LaHayne, Lockton has not officially announced any partnership with TouchCare, but expects the companies to have a more secure relationship in the near future.

“Based on my conversations with Rob, he is really working on partnering with the brokerage community, not trying to write business or work with companies without partnering with a consulting firm or brokerage firm that is already dealing with that client,” Peruccio says.

LaHayne is trying to set up more formal relationships with the broker community. Because the business has only been running for the past six months, there have only been a handful of brokerages involved with the health advocacy business at TouchCare.

“Our goal is to go out and find … more big regional brokers and clients — specifically in the ASO space — and set up arrangements with them where they can then bring TouchCare to their clients at a discounted price,” LaHayne says.

After working on both the carrier and broker sides of the benefits industry, LaHayne says his experience with positioning benefit communication and technology to work together has allowed him to gain the confidence and the knowledge to lead TouchCare’s health advocacy service as its new CEO.

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