What a benefits communication firm is telling clients now

Field report

Bart Yancey is leading a major Affordable Care Act compliance support firm through a period of confusion about what will happen to the ACA. (Photo: DirectPath) Bart Yancey is leading a major Affordable Care Act compliance support firm through a period of confusion about what will happen to the ACA. (Photo: DirectPath)

DirectPath helps so many large employers deal with so much Affordable Care Act paperwork that its compliance team could set up meetings with Obama administration ACA compliance officials.

Related: 3 brutal ACA paperwork headaches

DirectPath is a Birmingham, Alabama-based benefits enrollment, employee communication and health care compliance firm that works mainly with large employers.

The company is continuing to play a major role in keeping the U.S. employee benefits system going. In recent months, Trump administration transition team members have been picking its executives' brains.

But what DirectPath really wants to do is to keep and attract more large employers.

For agents and brokers struggling to cope with all of the uncertainty around the future of the ACA, one question is, how does DirectPath markets itself to large brokers, consultants and employers, given all of the upheaval in Washington?

Bart Yancey, the company's chief executive officer, said in a recent interview that he sees plenty of pressure.

"Large companies are trying to figure out how to get more for less," Yancey said. "I feel like we're a good bit of consolidation."

DirectPath is positioning itself as a company that can help large employers do a better job of squeezing out costs.

"We're going to help large companies reduce their health insurance costs," Yancey said.

Here's a look at some of what DirectPath is saying that will continue to apply no matter what the Trump administration and Congress do about matters such as employee counting, flexible spending account limits and the Cadillac plan excise tax.

DirectPath says it can help employers accelerate the movement into higher-deductible plans. (Image: Thinkstock)

DirectPath says it can help employers accelerate the movement into higher-deductible plans. (Image: Thinkstock)


1. Health account plans

Many employers have gotten great results from encouraging employees to move into higher-deductible plans combined with health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements.

The employees get a strong financial incentive to avoid frivolous use of care, and to get the kind of preventive care and high-value sick care that could reduce the need for high-cost care.

One challenge employers of all sizes face is nudging the employees still in traditional plans toward the account-based plans.

At DirectPath, "we help identify which employees are most likely to migrate," Yancey said in the interview.

DirectPath also offers employers help with using employee census data and other data to target the right messages to the right employees, to speed up the process.


2. Supplemental health benefits

DirectPath offers the same employers that are increasing use of high-deductible plans advice about how to make voluntary insurance products part of that strategy, not just a chance to offer workers more benefits choices.

DirectPath helps employers see that offering products such as hospital indemnity insurance and critical insurance can be a way to fill in out-of-pocket cost gaps in the core major medical benefits, Yancey said.

DirectPath tells employers about the role it can play in helping workers choose the right benefits.

"There needs to be a conversation," Yancey said. "It needs to be a personalized conversation."

DirectPath avoids touching the kind of protected health information that leads to federal privacy law problems, but it tries to help workers understand how specific products might fit their specific needs, he said.


3. Regulatory expertise

DirectPath has also tried to adapt to ACA changes and emphasize its ability to help clients with compliance issues.

The ACA changes "definitely impacted our business," Yancey said. "Our clients now need our services more than ever."

Even of the Trump administration succeeds to eliminating some paperwork, some may remain, Yancey said.

"Regardless," Yancey said, "what we do is still going to be very relevant."  

Related:

3 insights from an ACA notice pioneer

Republicans forge ahead with ACA change efforts

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