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Employee Benefit Professionals: Innovative, Integrated Solutions

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Jacquelynn Neat’s passion is helping people, especially in her work. But the Benefits Specialist at Employee Benefit Professionals spotted a trend that troubled her.

“As health insurance and health care costs rapidly increased, small business employers started pulling back on coverage, in some cases dropping benefit coverage altogether,” she recalled. “Employees showed little interest in accepting coverage as premiums and out-of-pocket costs skyrocketed. Employees were apathetic in the adoption of health and wellness plans that could save money.”

Given that small businesses make up more than 97 percent of the KC-metro workforce, this was especially threatening to maintain the health of thousands of people and the ability of those small companies to remain competitive.

Finding a New Path
As she researched this shift, a number of reasons emerged. In some cases, health insurance costs had hit a tipping point in the employers’ budgets. Many employees had decided to take more risks to keep the family budget intact. However, in every issue, Jacquelynn found the inability to make sense of the cost versus the risk created a great deal of apathy toward benefits.

“Of course, we all know this doesn’t end well. No matter where we are in life, there will be something that happens and wakes us up. I started hearing it as we went into last year’s enrollment period,” reported Jacquelynn, who recently joined the Overland Park, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care to better represent and serve small businesses. “The stories were just so heartbreaking. I found myself not wanting to attend my renewal meetings with employers. There had to be a better way.”

As an independent, licensed benefits specialist firm serving businesses in the Midwest, Employee Benefit Professionals represents a wide variety of healthcare coverage, networks and plan options for business. Not only does it focus on employee benefits, but it’s keenly focused on building strategic business partnerships with highly regarded companies such as NCES and 5D Strategies. NCES serves schools, university and healthcare systems with products for teaching best practices in health and nutrition.

Good Practices
“Over the last 19 years of owning my business, I have seen a continual degradation of general health and nutrition. We started seeing it first within adult populations. Remember the ’90s and the alarming rates of heart disease?” noted Chris Jackson, CEO of NCES. “The rates haven’t changed, but our society has become apathetic and 600,000-plus deaths per year is not even a story any longer. What really shocked me, though, has been been the dramatic rise in morbid obesity and diabetes. It started with adults but now has become an epidemic among children. I’ve always believed the greater majority of health costs are associated with behaviors within our control. Poor nutrition and exercise wreck our health over time. Equally, good nutrition and exercise can heal, but it takes time and commitment.”

Rebecca MacKinnon, CEO of 5D Strategies, approached the healthcare dilemma through the eyes of her information technology background. “The health system and the ability to serve providers and patients have changed dramatically. I remember when healthcare providers fought the introduction of patient portals and direct access to labs, tests and orders. Now, few of us would visit a primary care physician that doesn’t offer one,” she recalled. “For me, the world of technology, especially related to consumer health, is fascinating. The technology available is far outpacing consumer adoption, but millennials are going to test the boundaries. The adoption rates of technology are changing the methods and the way in which young people receive healthcare services.”

When Jacquelynn and Chris approached her about trying to bring a positive impact to the healthcare problem, Rebecca brought her experiences to the discussion. “Employees fortunate to have jobs with large employers have a plethora of options. Those working for small employers or in the gig economy are becoming the forgotten in the health system. I was disheartened to learn health insurers no longer wanted to cover individuals and small employers. I was equally frustrated to find that telemedicine and other types of digital access to healthcare were only being offered through large company EAP programs.”

Another Option
In spring 2019, the trio launched Indigo Care Partners with the goal of creating an employee assistance program for small businesses, nonprofits and associations. The consultants offer a boutique of personal health and wellness products to help small companies maintain a benefits program that’s an investment in their workforce and their family members. The site is driving interest from a small business to serve small business.

“Some more, very established tech-enabled, organizations quickly said, ‘Yes. We think that’s great,’” shared Jacquelynn. “Others have had to be convinced that our target customer offers economic value to their business model.”

For an innovative and integrated solution addressing the persistent challenge of rising healthcare premiums, reach out to Employee Benefits Professionals at and Indigo Care Partners at to meet the needs of your employees.