It’s ready to launch.
Indianapolis-based startup My Health Care Manager has signed an agreement with Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. that will eventually put My Health Care Manager’s elder care service in front of the health insurer’s thousands of employer clients and their workers around the country.
It’s a coup for My Health Care Manager, which has only about 500 individual customers now. But in September and October, WellPoint salespeople will pitch My Health Care Manager’s service to employers around Indiana.
Late this year or maybe next, WellPoint will talk up the service around the Midwest. Eventually, the company plans to roll it out in all 14 states where it operates.
WellPoint warmed to My Health Care Manager’s service because it targets a growing problem among businesses—workers absent or distracted as they try to care for an aging parent.
“We hear about [the elder issue] all the time,” said Rob Hillman, president of WellPoint’s Indiana subsidiary, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana. “If we have employers dealing with this, then we want to make sure we’re in a position to deal with it.”
My Health Care Manager, founded in 2006, guides working adults and their parents through the maze of decisions and agencies involved in care for seniors. It uses computer software, call centers and nurses to advise its clients and keep them updated on their parent’s care.
Working care givers cost U.S. employers $34 billion a year, according to a 2006 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. That’s $2,110 per full-time employee. And the scope of the issue is growing.
Most business executives are in their mid-40s to mid-60s—meaning their parents may have reached an age where they can no longer care for themselves.
“From an employer perspective, that’s probably some of your top people,” said Bryan Brenner, CEO of Benefit Associates, a benefits consulting firm in Indianapolis. “They have big jobs. They have families at home that they’re trying to get through college. And then Mom or Dad gets sick. It’s stressful.”
Brenner began offering My Health Care Manager’s service to his clients six months ago, saying it’s a “beautiful solution” to the challenge of elder care. Two are interested, but neither has pulled the trigger yet.
My Health Care Manager has been offering its service to employers for 40 cents to $1.50 per month for each health plan member. Employers who buy the service through WellPoint will pay similar rates, with WellPoint getting a small cut of the revenue.
Bloomington-based Indiana University, which has 17,500 employees statewide, started paying for the service April 1. About a dozen of its employees have used it.
“Our first priority was helping our employees with these difficult issues,” said Dan Rives, IU’s associate vice president for human resources, adding that he was so far “very pleased” with the elder care service. “This is strictly a resource for them. And we are contributing a pretty small amount.”
The monthly fees IU pays cover an initial phone consultation with a My Health Care Manager nurse and for the nurse to develop a recommended plan of action. The IU workers pay for any further services after that, which cost about $90 to $125 an hour.
My Health Care Manager has been offering its service through employers for two years—but the employers were not contributing to the cost of the service. As more do, My Health Care Manager officials expect more workers to actually sign up as its customers.
My Health Care Manager also markets its product directly to families struggling to manage care for an aging parent. But take-up of the service has been slow.
“We now have a way to get to the market,” said Alan Stanford, founder and CEO of My Health Care Manager. He added that he will now pitch his service to Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that WellPoint does not own.
“It just gives our company credibility as an established company very quickly,” he said of the WellPoint deal.
My Health Care Manager has annual revenue of less than $1 million now. But within a year, Stanford expects sales to near $10 million.
“We’re past the development phase and now we’re in the scaling phase,” Stanford said. “We have the potential to be a very large business.”•