Veteran benefits-administration executive Bill Mehus believes that federal health care reform, including the much-anticipated insurance exchanges, will mean more economical choices for consumers and small employers.
Mehus, founder and CEO of OutsourceOne, will launch this week a new website, "www.ekydos.com" -- a new business channel that he said offers health and other insurance products at "significant cost savings thanks to the massive scope of the market" and "proprietary technology."
EKydos, Greek for "acclaim," offers a suite of benefits including limited medical plans, vision, life, disability and medical-premium continuation coverage (due to unemployment), developed in partnership with Lloyd's of London.
"Those currently employed, those who are unemployed and even the unaffiliated, can simply go on the website, review the coverages, complete the information forms and then point, click and buy the kinds of benefits they need and can afford," said Mehus, who founded OutsourceOne in 1988 and owns it with other employees. Carriers are starting to come to us to add their products. "We will help you find insurance, and track yourself in a wellness and nutrition and weight program. Our website is meant for rank-and-file America. Not Cadillac plans, but insurance that they can afford and use and customize to fit their needs."
OutsourceOne gets paid a fee by the carriers as they sell new business through the channel.
Mehus also believes OutsourceOne is well-positioned as health care reform leads to more people being covered, and as more employers decide to get out of the benefits business and simply give employees a chunk of money with which to buy the benefits they want.
OutsourceOne is expanding in downtown's Baker Center and expects to grow from about 50 people today to 150 people by the end of 2012.
Pierce McNally, a long-time Gray Plant & Mooty partner and OutsourceOne board member, moved to full-time work in planning and strategy last year as OutsourceOne charted an expanding course.
"We're looking at distribution systems that will put us on exchanges and also get us directly to consumers and employers who increasingly are going to look for more of a defined-contribution plan where they will offer employees a certain amount of money and find places for insurance coverage they need," McNally said.
The number of employers providing comprehensive health care coverage to employees is dropping every year.
Mehus said insurance carriers listed as options on the eKydos site are brand-name carriers selling at discounts because "the amount of paperwork is significantly reduced and this method of offering insurance is considerably less expensive than traditional insurance marketing and sales methods."
OutsourceOne is benefits administrator for more than 80 clients, including the city of St. Paul and Piper Jaffray and Lennox Corp.
A MOTHER-BABY CENTER IS BORN
Silas Wahl, 2, born in 2009 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, participated in the groundbreaking last week of the Mother Baby Center, a collaborative effort of neighbors Abbott Northwestern and Children's Hospital, at 26th and Chicago Avenue S.
For decades, critically ill babies born at Abbott have been whisked through an underground tunnel for emergency care at Children's, separating moms from babies. The Mother Baby Center will merge Abbott Northwestern's labor, delivery and newborn nurseries with Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Special Care Nursery and Infant Care Center. The $50 million, 96,000-square-foot complex will be constructed by the end of 2012 on the Children's campus.
"By bringing our services together, we create a center that allows us to keep families together, a key goal for our organizations, and offers the best quality and experience for those we serve," said Dr. Penny Wheeler, chief medical officer of Allina.
Abbott has the highest birth volume in the region, delivering more than 4,000 babies each year. About 10 percent of these involve high-risk pregnancies or complications that require additional care and monitoring in a newborn intermediate care or intensive care unit. Children's is ranked among the top 10 pediatric hospitals in America.
The two hospitals, between them, operate about a dozen facilities on two campuses that span several blocks.