The challenges facing the small business in the coming years won’t get smaller. They will grow.
The challenges of providing benefits to the employees at small businesses won’t get any easier either. The Affordable Care Act has had the effect of making small businesses face a hard choice: stop offering health insurance benefits to their employees or go out of business. No amount of political rhetoric changes that.
So what is the small business owner to do?
The first thing that is required is an absolute need to think differently about the whole issue of health care.
And step one is to understand that “health care != health insurance”. The politicians in Washington have done an excellent job of deluding themselves and us into believing that if we don’t have health insurance we, therefore, don’t have health care.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Health care has to be understood in a more holistic manner. To have good health you have to stay healthy. You have to eat healthily. You need to move around (it’s called exercise for the cubicle bound) and you have to actually go to the doctor when you have a need.
But once you do get sick or injured, many times that is when the real work starts, because regardless of who pays (and a strong argument can be made that any third party payer leads to inflated costs), paperwork is a huge headache. Knowing what you actually owe and then actually paying it is too.
If you have ever had a serious illness or injury, with or without a third party payer (think insurance or Medicaid/Medicare), or had a family member who did, you know that you can get buried quickly under a mountain of paperwork.
This was driven home for me in 1994 when my father passed away. I spend two weeks working to help sort out my parent’s affairs so my siblings and I could better understand what it would take to meet my mother’s needs.
What I found was that my father’s two earlier heart attacks, while largely covered by Medicare, left a mountain of paper work. One man’s health needs created essentially two full file cabinet drawers worth of paperwork.
A Simplee Solution
Simplee is an online service that makes an excellent stab at helping health care consumers take control of their experience with a complicated system.
They do this by linking your medical providers with a central system that presents all of your expenses in a single user interface. In some ways what Simplee seeks to be to health care what Mint.com is to personal finance.
The difference is, that, most information related to health care isn’t readily understandable to consumers. Whereas Mint.com touches you where you already live (expenses, income and savings), Simplee takes complicated information (tons of it actually), and attempts to present it to end users simply.
The challenge is, using high tech and low touch to remedy health and healing expenses.
The Good Stuff
1. Information is power. For the small business looking to control costs without pursuing the ever increasing cost of insurance, Simplee is an excellent place to start. Employees can be empowered to make informed decisions that control health care expenses.
2. Simple interface. Simplee goes to great lengths to keep the aggregation of confusing and numerous documents which result from encounters with the health care system (regardless who pays) simple. They rightly understand the confusion that that mountain of paperwork can have on someone recovering from illness or injury.
3. Price. Simplee is a freemium model. You don’t pay them, you pay through them, which is where they make their money. Quite simply, if you use Simplee to manager your bills and pay through them, they make money. Otherwise they don’t.
Which of course means they have incentive. They work to present your medical bills to you in so simple enough manner to make paying them quick and easy. If they fail to do that, they don’t get paid. Simple.
The point then, from the perspective of a small business, is that Simplee provides a free service that can be leveraged to assist employees to lower their medical costs.
In the years ahead, that can become a major advantage of small businesses: helping employees manager health care costs.
That’s my thought. What do you think about reining in medical costs? Look for future articles on how small businesses can respond to the spiraling cost of health insurance and medical bills.