mCHATS: Celebrating Maestronite Women

By Bridget Houser, Accounting Supervisor

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day all month long at Maestro Health, because one day just wasn’t enough. One of the ways we’ve been celebrating gender diversity in our workforce is through our “mCHATs” with some of the women at Maestro Health, where we discuss everything from careers, role models and overcoming obstacles. Next up is Bridget Houser, Accounting Supervisor.


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How did you get to where you're at now? 
I studied Accounting and International Business at Indiana University. After graduation, I sat for the CPA exams and became a CPA. I started my career in public accounting at Ernst & Young and then spent two years working at Frontenac, a Private Equity firm in Chicago. I’ve now been with Maestro Health, where I’m an Accounting Supervisor, for three years.

Care to share some fun facts about yourself? 
I worked at Cold Stone Creamery for 5 years and loved every minute of it!

 What is the best career advice you've ever been given?
The best career advice that I’ve been given is that at the end of the day, work is about the relationships that you’re creating. It’s important to be learning and to be an efficient, productive employee, however, it’s also important to be building and nurturing relationships along the way.  

Are there any books you've read lately that have inspired you? 
I recently read Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. It’s a compilation of advice from various business leaders, celebrities, health gurus, etc. The people featured in the book share their personal success and failure stories and how they got to where they are today. My main take-away from the book is that everyone has their own path to success and ‘success’ looks different to different people. The things that work for some might not work for others and that’s okay. Reading about ‘successful’ people’s pathway to success and the failures/challenges that they’ve overcome was very inspirational.

 How do you get involved around your community? 
Outside of Maestro Health, I am a part of the Core Power Yoga community. I recently became certified as a yoga instructor through Core Power Yoga. Being a part of this community has given me a healthy hobby and a place to be surrounded by like-minded people who inspire me to be a better person. It has also helped to give me a work-life balance and a place to recharge outside of work. I am excited to give back to this community by teaching classes and helping other students gain what I’ve gained through yoga.

I also volunteer at Park Community Church in the kids care room so that parents can drop their kids while they attend service. I enjoy spending time with the kids and am happy to give hard-working parents an hour break in their week!

What do you like about Maestro Health? 
I like that I’m surrounded by smart, hard-working people who also value a good work culture. I find that people at Maestro Health truly embody our core values: biz-love, fun, preparedness, teamwork, kindness, humility, urgency, bold thought and honesty.

Any advice you can give to a woman looking to advance in her career?
It’s important to set goals and to write them down. Though your career likely won’t progress in a straight line, it’s important to lay out a roadmap of where you think you want to go. Equally important is setting aside time to reevaluate these goals as they will likely evolve over time. Having a mentor, ideally outside of your place of work, is also important as you’ll receive professional/personal advice from someone who’s already been where you are.  

mCHATS: Celebrating Gender Diversity

By Kirsten Williams, Product Manager, Benefits Administration

Last week, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. At Maestro Health, we simply didn’t think one day was enough. So, we decided to take the entire month of March to celebrate the gender diversity in our workforce by chatting, or “mCHATTING,” with our employees about careers, inspiration and overcoming.

We’ll be sharing our mCHATs throughout the month of March, here on our mBLOG. Next up is Kirsten Williams, Product Manager – Benefits Administration.


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How did you get to where you're at now?
Prior to joining Maestro Health, I was in HR, having started my career as entry level working up to eventually running an HR department for a large insurance brokerage firm. It was a very traditional firm.

When our son was born four years ago and subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the firm did not meet my current family needs with respect to flexibility of hours in the office. He had a myriad of medical appointments and therapy sessions during the weekday. It didn’t matter that I worked hours at night to complete my work because I wasn’t physically at my desk from 8 am – 5 pm. My boss and the CEO, who was male, was very approving of the flexibility, but the traditional culture hadn’t caught up with his thinking.

When I was looking for something new, I called my old buddy Shay Butler for a reference at Maestro Health, and the rest is history! I am pleased to look back at my former company and see how far they have come with advancing women into leadership roles and being more flexible with hours physically at the office. I would like to think that my experience helped catapult the company in the right direction.

What are some of the personal experiences that have influenced your thinking around gender diversity in the workplace that have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change?
My first real job out of college was at a window manufacturer where all the executives and most of the line managers were men. I remember a woman being hired over a few of the plant managers for a hefty salary compared to what the men were making. I’m embarrassed to admit that even I was shocked by it! An experience like that illustrates how difficult it is to change the mindset around a woman’s qualifications. Many of us have been conditioned to think that men are superior due to our own upbringing and experiences, especially if we had mothers that didn’t work outside the home. 

What do you like about Maestro Health?
Most employers say family is first but I really feel it at Maestro Health. I have never felt guilty when a family emergency came up and I had to put my work second. As a working mother, this is incredibly important to me. The key to making this work company-wide is a mutual respect to do a good job by both the employer and employee. For example, last week my son had a dental emergency and I had to attend to him. Knowing that it would take a few hours of my day I told my husband that I would need to work at night so I could catch up on things I missed. I respect Maestro Health’s time – just as they respect mine.

Do you feel that Maestro Health is a diverse workforce?
I’m proud to work at Maestro Health for a number of reasons. And I do think that we have a good mix of men and women throughout all parts of the company. It would be nice to see more diversity in roles traditionally held by women vs. those traditionally held by men. But as with anything, we are not perfect, and can always strive to do better.

How do you get involved around your community?
I grew up in a very small community where I learned the importance of helping others that are less fortunate. I’ve been active on various boards, and I am currently the President of Riverview Center Board of Directors. My husband Chris and I have raised money for the March of Dimes and our local hospital. Recently, we have gotten involved in Ainsley’s Angels and the Miracle League of Dubuque

In addition to our four year old, we have a fifteen year old son who is very active in sports and a seventeen year old niece who has lived with us for the past year. Welcoming her into our immediate family and being involved in my community has allowed me to tap into a skill set I didn’t know I had. There are so many benefits of volunteerism (or surrogate parenting!) that bleed into how one performs as an employee.

What is the biggest roadblock you've experienced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I think the diagnosis of Peter’s cerebral palsy caused a roadblock in my career because I was in the wrong company for the circumstances. I didn’t feel like I could progress in my role while still staying actively involved in his treatment. I overcame it by finding another position at Maestro Health that allowed me to thrive while caring for those who are most important to me. I was very lucky to have that opportunity; but it also speaks how you carry yourself can have consequences down the road. Had I been a poor performer when the circumstances weren’t right, or blamed others for my situation, I wouldn’t have other opportunities. I took control of the situation and made the move for the right reasons.  

mCHATS: Celebrating Gender Diversity

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources & Compliance Officer

While it may seem like International Women’s Day was first put on the map only a few years ago, the holiday dates all the way back to 1909. Today, International Women’s Day is recognized and celebrated in more than twenty-five countries.

We at Maestro Health want to join in the fun but decided one day just wasn’t going to cut it. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re taking the entire month of March and “mCHATTING” with some of the women at Maestro Health about careers, inspiration and overcoming obstacles.

We’ll be sharing our mCHATs here on our mBLOG. First up is Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources & Compliance Officer.


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Care to share some fun facts about yourself?
I love to sail our boat the Barcelona. I am a total travel junkie. My blood type is French roast. My playlists include 80s hair bands and old school jazz. I don’t have an athletic bone in my uncoordinated body.

How did you get to where you are now?  
I believe it has been a combination of being open to possibilities, pushing myself, and simply being in the right place at the right time. In terms of my journey to CHRO at Maestro Health, I was the Vice President of Human Resources at Group Associates, which Maestro Health acquired in 2015. Prior to that, I was the Director of Human Resources at Five Brothers Asset Management Solutions.

What advice do you have for other women in healthcare?  
Some of the best advice I have been given in my career is to listen. That’s important enough to bear repeating. Listen. Believe in yourself, surround yourself with strong people that push you to grow, and remember to send the elevator back down. It’s essential that you know your business inside out. As you grow in your role and career, be able to talk the talk of your C-suite and other peers. Keep yourself open to possibilities. You never know when an interesting opportunity will knock on your door.

What are some of the personal experiences that have influenced your thinking around gender diversity in the workplace that have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change? 
Not just gender diversity but diversity. Period. The idea of denying a highly qualified candidate the opportunity to grow in their career or enrich your business because of their physical makeup is outrageous. Gender, sexual orientation, weight, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs – are you kidding me? The war for talent is raging. Intentionally narrowing the talent pool based on irrelevant details is more than just illegal. It’s a narrow mindset that only does your organization a disservice.

What do you like about Maestro Health? 
So many things but first and foremost that we encourage our employees to bring their authentic self to the job every day. Of course, we expect professionalism and for people to embrace our culture and core values. But the fact that we meet them where they’re at and celebrate the diversity they bring to our family – that’s true biz-love.

Are there any books you've read lately that helped inspire you?  

  • Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters and Make Smarter Choices About Giving Back by William MacAskill

  • The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work and Connect Across Differences by Helen Riess, MD

How do you get involved around your community? 
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. I believe human beings are fundamentally wired to give. I love that we embrace this at Maestro Health. Maestronites have participated in a number of volunteer and fundraising opportunities, such as working at food pantries, making blankets for the homeless and foster kids, and school supply drives across all four of our locations. You don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist. Your time is incredibly valuable. Get involved in what matters to you.

Are there any women you look to as inspiration? 
I really enjoy following Libby Sartain to hear her perspective on Human Resources. 

What is the biggest roadblock you've experienced in your career & how did you overcome it? 
It’s sadly not an uncommon experience, but I have worked at organizations where men in positions of authority viewed women as “lesser” in the business world. How did I overcome it? I put them in my rearview mirror. Life is too short for that nonsense.

Research suggests that women can face different challenges in the workplace making it more difficult to access opportunities, networks, resources, etc. In your view, what are some of these systemic challenges that still need to be addressed? 
Unfortunately, there are still many cultural gender biases that still exist both in the workplace and in relationships. For instance, childcare and managing a household are still often considered a woman’s responsibility when it's truly a parental or partner responsibility. 

A common gender bias issue that takes place in the workplace deals with the mental framework of emotional and verbal responses, i.e. a man will make a statement and he's considered assertive but if a woman makes the exact same statement she’s considered “bitchy” and consequently overlooked for growth opportunities. 

It’s also all too common to see women who struggle with imposter syndrome. We see it a lot in high-achieving women who believe they're unworthy of the roles they have earned, and fear others will expose them as a fraud. So not only are they facing external challenges, they’re having to refute their internal dialogue as well.

While there’s no magic wand to solve for these challenges, I believe open discussions embracing gender diversity, such as this blog series, can be a piece of the puzzle to help us get there. 

Overall, it should never be about men vs. women. Instead, it should always be about who is the best person for the job. And when the best is a woman – fight for her – not because she's a female but because she's the best. 

New year, new data: 2019 Employee healthcare views

It’s January – a time for an honest look at what needs to be addressed in the year ahead of us. With healthcare always being in the forefront of our minds, Maestro Health surveyed 1,000 employed consumers to gauge their current views of healthcare and one thing was very clear – they want their employer to step up and truly address the cost struggle and increase employees’ health outcomes.

 Here is a look at the full survey findings:

  • 68% of respondents say the cost of healthcare has gone up in the past three years

  • 62% of respondents feel their employer does not serve as a resource for their healthcare-related questions

  • 33% of respondents don’t understand their medical bills

  • Only 33% of respondents say they completely understand the health coverage offered through their employer

  • 44% of respondents say their employer doesn’t offer anything outside of health benefits for employees to meet their health goals

  • 60% of respondents say that financial incentives would make them more willing to improve their health regime

  • 39% of respondents have chosen not to go to the doctor to avoid costs

  • 54% of respondents don’t know what the term “self-funded healthcare” means 

The results are clear: there is still much work to be done to improve employers’ involvement in educating, empowering and motivating their employee base when it comes to their health. Having the right tools to provide cost containment solutions and consistent education and engagement are part of closing that gap.

These insights have even more fuel to our mission to make employee benefits people-friendly again by lowering costs, improving health outcomes and transforming the healthcare experience. At Maestro Health, our solutions are optimized to enable and inspire employers to play the critical role of keeping their employees happy and healthy. This type of support is clearly what employees are seeking. 

You can find more tools and resources on how to lower healthcare costs for your employees and improve outcomes at GameChangerHR.com.

2018. What a Year.

It’s that time of year again. Festivus parties have ended. Holiday cards have been sent. A new year has begun. And we’re taking a step back to look at everything 2018 brought for Maestronites.

We started the year off with a bang with our acquisition by AXA. Joining forces with a worldwide insurance leader added even more fuel to our mission to make employee health and benefits people-friendly again.

Shortly after the acquisition, we launched our health plan management approach to self-funded benefits. By incorporating a people-friendly reference-based pricing model, we were able to partner with 170 new employer clients, like Leith Automotive, Secure Health and Phoebe Putney who were looking to change the healthcare game by lowering costs and improving health outcomes for their employees. 

Passionate about the value HR leaders offer to organizations, we equipped them with resources to help them not only land a seat in the C-Suite, but better position them to successfully collaborate with their C-Suite team. After all, HR is uniquely positioned to help drive down one of their organization’s largest expenses – healthcare.

In 2018, we continued to expand our partnership with Aflac® to offer their brokers and employers a robust benefits administration solution called voluntaryEDGE™. This partnership with Aflac has made it possible to simplify and streamline the complete benefits experience for employers looking to provide comprehensive voluntary benefits packages, including accident, hospital, critical illness, vision, dental, disability and cancer insurance, to employees.

We on-boarded 65 new Maestronites, including more customer advocates, a new Chief Financial Officer and data analysts, to help us meet our employers’ needs. (Spoiler Alert: We’re still hiring.) To house these new hires, we moved our Detroit Maestronites to a bigger and better office and we began breaking down walls to expand our corporate headquarters in Chicago.

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Why Employers Should Care About Their People’s Financial Stress

Let’s cut to the chase. Financial stress hurts your employees and that hurts your business. Dig into related loss of productivity, presenteeism, higher medical insurance claims, and suddenly the impact on your company’s bottom line gets very real.

So, what’s an employer to do? Is employee financial stress even your problem? Is your company’s profitability your problem? You’re tracking with me, aren’t you?

Financial stress isn’t a new concept. Employees around the globe have been struggling with this for years. In 2017, one study found that only 35 percent of employees in the U.S. expressed feeling satisfied with their current financial situation, which was a drop from 48 percent in 2014. That’s a double-digit drop in just 3 years. It’s not just young employees either. The number of bankruptcies filed by baby boomers has tripled since 1991. Strategic organizations are waking up to the need for financial wellness tools to maintain and improve employee health and work productivity.

Financial stress can have a serious impact on your employees’ health.

When money is keeping your employees up at night, it can take a major toll on their health. Financial stress has been linked to the following physical health conditions:

  • Migraines

  • Cardiovascular diseases

  • Insomnia

Another scary fact – a 2018 survey found that 8,000 Americans who suffered a “negative wealth shock,” defined as losing at least 75 percent of their wealth in two years, have a 50 percent increased risk of dying in the following two decades. The Great Recession not only resulted in employees losing their financial footing, it took a heavy toll on their physical and mental health.   

The more employees suffer from financial stress, so will work productivity.
When you’re experiencing money troubles, it’s difficult to think about much else. How many times have seen employees stepping into the hallway to take a call? How many have needed to leave work during their shift to pay basic utilities to keep their power on that day? A recent PwC study found that 43 percent of employees feel distracted by their finances to the point where they spend three hours or more at work thinking about or dealing with those issues. Along with distraction, financial stress leads to a rise in absenteeism. In fact, employees with the highest levels of debt are twice as likely to miss work

Fortunately, there are ways employers can address financial stress.
The first step is identifying how prevalent the problem is at your organization. Start looking for clues. Get your hands on your HR data. Are you getting feedback from your managers that they’re fielding an uptick in debt collector calls? Are you seeing a spike in wage garnishments? Has there been an increase in 401(k) loans and withdrawals?

If you’re seeing the symptoms, use your HR data to help employees find a cure. Begin taking a holistic approach to health and wellness by treating the whole employee. More employers are taking a complete look at their employees’ wellness in regard to their financial, mental and emotional health, rather than just focusing on their physical health. There are several reputable vendors in the financial wellness space. Look for a partner that is able to offer intuitive financial education for your employees. Consider adding a low cost loan option to your employee benefit program utilizing a socially responsible source such as Kashable to cover unexpected expenses.

Take a hard look at the healthcare benefits your organization offers. Do they ensure your organization is providing employees with access to quality care at low healthcare costs. The PwC study found that 22 percent of employees stated “lower healthcare costs” would help them achieve their future financial goals. It is imperative that we take the initiative to educate our employees how to gain maximum benefit from their healthcare benefits. Recently I had a conversation with an individual struggling under the high-deductible plan her employer had put in place to lower premiums. She had no idea that participating in the plan qualified her for an HSA. She was missing out on the triple tax benefit of an HSA while struggling with how to best utilize her new plan and not add to her financial burden.   

I know, lowering healthcare costs for employees sounds like an impossible task if you’ve been dealing with premium hikes, year after year. We’re seeing many mid-size employers opting for a modern health plan management approach to self-funded benefits to drive down cost while maintaining quality benefits. This includes things such as partnering with a people-friendly reference-based pricing vendor that reaches out directly to providers and negotiate fair-market reimbursement using Medicare as a reference-point. They prevent employers from paying inflated claims that are commonplace with traditional carrier plans. The people-friendly part is key. They differentiate themselves by providing employees with education and the support they need to help them deal with things like balance billing issues.

If you think you’re stressed out trying to lower your company’s benefit costs, imagine the stress your employees are feeling trying to live those benefits. As HR business leaders, we need to find the right balance for both the company and the employees. When more than one in five employees express a willingness to forgo future pay increases for better healthcare benefits, they’re sending us a message. We need to listen.

As innovative companies embrace the holistic approach to health and wellness, they’ll begin to provide benefits that address their employees’ financial wellness needs. In HR we want the win-win solutions. There are so many options to provide our employees significant relief in the financial wellness space. Why would we put it off any longer?

You can find more tips and resources on how to lower healthcare costs for your employees and your organization at GameChangerHR.com.

Breaking Down Barriers to Improve Health Outcomes

It’s no secret that U.S. healthcare spending is through the roof. We continue to hear alarming stats on how the U.S. currently spends twice as much on healthcare than ten other high-income countries. We continue to analyze why we’re not seeing better outcomes with all of the money being poured into the healthcare system. People blame these higher costs and undesirable outcomes to poor American diets, inefficient healthcare delivery systems, overpriced pharmaceuticals and unit costs. However, little attention seems to be given to things outside of the stereotypical healthcare experience, like limited access to healthy food options, lack of education, financial hardships or unsafe neighborhoods. These environmental, social and economic factors, also known as social determinants of health, can greatly impact an individual’s health, yet historically our healthcare system has not specifically focused on them.

Understanding the social determinants of health and why they matter.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to make choices that lead to good health. But in order for this to truly become a reality, advances are needed not only in healthcare delivery and technology but also in education, childcare, housing, community planning, business, transportation – just to name a few.

 According to Healthy People 2020, there are five key areas of social determinants of health:

  • Neighborhood & built environment – access to safe housing, parks and playgrounds

  • Health & healthcare – access to health coverage and quality care

  • Social & community context – support systems, discrimination and stress

  • Education – literacy, language, access to quality education and vocational training

  • Economic stability – employment, medical bills and income

These areas have the potential to greatly affect an individual’s health. In fact, social and environmental factors impact the risk of premature death by 20 percent, while genetics has a 30 percent impact. Health disparities also pose great financial risk and account for a whopping $102 billion in direct medical costs in the U.S. each year.

How to break down barriers to promote good health for all.
It’s clear that a traditional population health management (PHM) program simply won’t cut it anymore. Every person is unique and so is their health journey. An effective PHM strategy should be designed to be flexible enough to adjust care for someone who has limited access to public transportation, is unsure of their ability to afford healthy food options or is dealing with economic and family hardships. At Maestro Health™, we believe the entire PHM strategy must be redefined. That’s why our HEALTHY(me)™ program takes a holistic approach to address a person’s physical, financial and emotional wellbeing.

This holistic approach allows us to meet the person where they are on their healthcare journey and understand what “healthy” looks like to them. For some it may be hitting 10,000 steps on their Fitbit, while others would like to see a decrease in their A1C levels.

However, it must go beyond identifying personal health goals. We believe an effective PHM strategy must dig deeper to understand the barriers they are facing in their everyday lives that are preventing them from finding their healthy. For instance, if lack of public transportation has historically been a problem, then a personalized care plan should include something as simple as arranging a ride to a doctor’s visit.  

Take it one step further and apply technology to expand your data set. Utilize this robust data to derive additional insights to further identify and address an individual’s specific needs. According to PwC, 78 percent of providers stated that they are unable to identify their patients’ social needs due to a lack of data insight. Our HEALTHY(me) program provides nurse care coordinators access to a person’s personal and healthcare profile, in an effort to close gaps in care and assist providers in addressing their patient’s specific needs.

A PHM strategy that does not consider the social determinants of health, does not consider a person’s overall wellbeing. You can learn how we’re integrating this approach with our self-funded solution to help simplify experiences, improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs at GameChangerHR.com.  

3 Reasons I’m Excited to Be Here

By Florian Bezault, Chief Financial Officer

It’s official. I am a Maestronite. While I have spent most of my career with AXA working on everything from corporate finance to investor relations & risk management to healthcare operations, I’m beyond thrilled to begin this next chapter of my career as Chief Financial Officer at Maestro Health. Here’s why:

1. I share a passion to transform U.S. healthcare with my fellow Maestronites.
It’s no secret that the U.S. healthcare industry has reached its tipping point. The U.S. spends over $3 trillion on healthcare each year, yet Americans aren’t getting any healthier and the majority find it nearly impossible to navigate the complex healthcare landscape. That’s why I’m so proud to be working for a company with a mission to disrupt the industry by making employee health and benefits people-friendly again and to take consumer engagement to the next level.

2. It’s clear why CFOs love our approach to employee health and benefits.
I’ve been diving in and learning more about the solutions Maestro Health offers employers. The more I learned about our health plan management approach to self-funded benefits, the more I was convinced this is a no-brainer solution for any CFO in the U.S. While healthcare costs are at an all-time high (so much so that companies like Starbucks are paying more on healthcare than coffee beans) the (me)SELF-FUNDED BENEFITS™ solution has been saving our clients an average of 20 – 30 percent off their healthcare costs in the first year. For some companies, this could be millions of dollars in savings.

3. The culture at Maestro Health is one that cannot be beat.
At many companies, office culture is something that people like to talk about, but few truly walk the walk. I have quickly discovered that isn’t the case at Maestro Health. The values aren’t just painted on the walls at each office. The people in each office truly embody the values themselves. In the short time I’ve been working at Maestro Health, I’ve met people from all walks of life, that display the same level of teamwork, humility and bold thought while collaborating and working together.  

I am eagerly taking this next step in my career with Maestro Health. I’m excited to be a part of transforming the U.S. healthcare industry at such a critical time by solving the challenges experienced by far too many across the country.

4 Points to hit when talking benefits with your CFO

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

As an HR leader, it’s essential to collaborate with all members of your C-Suite. Doing so is not only important to your organization’s success, but it also helps you share your unique insight and be seen as a key member of the C-Suite table. What better opportunity to display your value than by tackling the healthcare dilemma? After all, it’s imperative that your business crafts a strategy to tackle the skyrocketing costs and poor employee experiences with healthcare. Your CFO is already keenly aware of this. Partnering with them to strategize your organization’s approach can likely be a win-win for all, but it’s essential that you begin by learning to speak your CFO’s language for a successful partnership.

1 Treat benefits like an investment opportunity.
When speaking with your CFO, focus on demonstrating the investment opportunity a modern benefits approach can offer your organization. Let them know that your company is in the healthcare business. In fact, every U.S. company is in the healthcare business. Healthcare is the second or third largest expense for most employers. General Motors spends more on healthcare than steel. Starbucks spends more on healthcare than coffee beans. Once your CFO is on-board for a partnership, lay out the strategic, business-focused reasons for implementing a modern benefits approach.

2 Give them the 411 on cost-saving solutions.
Provide a high-level view of the variety of new, cost-saving healthcare solutions available in the market. Be prepared to answer why you selected the options for your company, as well as why you don’t see the others as a good fit.

Keep in mind, your CFO is not entirely fluent in HR speak and that’s okay. Share your knowledge. Get comfortable speaking from a financial viewpoint about the modern solutions organizations are using to combat rising costs like:

  • People-friendly reference-based pricing models that increase access to quality care AND lower healthcare costs
  • Pharmacy benefit management vendors that provide transparent contracting
  • Medical management that is integrating throughout the employee experience

3 Find the numbers. Know the data.
If you have access, dig into your claims data to show the breakdown of your current healthcare costs. It is highly probable that a small population of your employees are driving the majority of your healthcare costs. These are the numbers you need to bring to your CFO. If you don’t have this data available to you, hit your CFO with the fact that just 5 percent of Americans are driving over half of the cost of U.S. healthcare.

Use this information to forecast how new approaches to benefits can lower your healthcare costs. For example, implementing a self-funded solution that offers holistic care management can help improve the health conditions of employees who need it the most, while also offering wellness initiatives to maintain the health of your healthier employees.

4 Show them the money.
It’s fair to say that your company’s bottom line is top of mind for your CFO. In fact, 65 percent of CFOs claim “cost management” as their top priority. With that being said, you must be able to show them true numbers on how a new self-funded solution can provide real cost-savings for your company’s bottom line.

This can be done by showing a comparison of the cost trend of traditional benefit strategies. Fully-insured employers can expect to continue to see a 20 percent increase in their benefits, while self-insured employers that offer traditional PPO networks, can expect a 5.5 percent cost increase for the future. However, employers that are implementing creative healthcare solutions like a health plan management approach to self-funded benefits are experiencing an average decrease in healthcare costs of 20 percent in their first year.

If you’re already in the process of researching vendors that offer these modern approaches, be sure that you’re also making it a requirement for them to provide you with an ROI analysis. If they can’t provide this for you, do you truly trust them to partner with you?

You can find more tips and resources to help you grab a chair and collaborate with the entire C-Suite at YourHRSeat.com.

Traditional vs. People-friendly reference-based pricing

By Ray West, Chief Growth Officer

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If you’re familiar with reference-based pricing (RBP), then you’re also likely aware that many early adopters did not have the best experience. They were promised RBP was a surefire strategy to prevent overpaying for medical claims. However, employers experienced an alarming amount of noise from their employees, who were struggling to cope with balance billing and fear of medical debt. Since then, some vendors have evolved the RBP game to include a people-friendly approach.

The traditional reference-based pricing model.
When RBP emerged approximately ten years ago, the model leveraged median prices in geographical locations as a reference-point for how much an employer would pay for provider services. RBP vendors then began holding strict reference points to Medicare for all service types. This created a “take it or leave it” message for providers, leaving them understandably frustrated.

This traditional model also left employees in the dark. As if the healthcare experience isn’t complex enough, employees were receiving bills from their providers for the balance their health plan was refusing to pay (aka, a balance bill). These bills came as a surprise to employees and vendors were providing little to no education or support to help guide employees on how to resolve these balance bills.

Eventually RBP vendors began to grow more flexible with their payment models by incorporating additional data to determine what was an appropriate amount to pay. Up-front and real-time member education became a part of their offering. Some even began offering employee assistance with balance bills.

The people-friendly reference-based pricing model.
Today, employers are able to implement a modern reference-based pricing model that eliminates over-paying for claims, but also offers complete transparency and the support employees need – the people-friendly reference-based pricing model. This new model improves the experience for everyone involved:

  • Providers receive fair-market reimbursement
  • Employers get connected with providers and see significant healthcare savings and transparent claims data
  • Employees get the support they need to navigate the complex healthcare system

People-friendly reference-based pricing still has Medicare at its core. However, it’s no longer a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, these vendors directly reach out to providers and negotiate a fair-market reimbursement using Medicare as a reference-point. This ensures providers are being paid fairly for services and reduces the risk of employees receiving a balance bill.

It’s important to note that people-friendly reference-based pricing is not solely based around Medicare. These vendors offer employers a proactive provider disruption analysis, which helps identify the doctors an organization’s employees are used to seeing. This will often lead to provider outreach and contracting with providers to guarantee the provider will accept the negotiated pricing, essentially replacing traditional PPO networks with RBP networks.

The education and support offered by people-friendly reference-based pricing sets it far apart from the traditional reference-based pricing model. Vendors will navigate employees to high quality and low-cost providers in their area. One way they do this is by implementing copay incentives – offering lower copays for medical services if they visit pre-negotiated providers. In addition, employees are given education on how to react if they receive a balance bill. They’re also given the support and guidance necessary for handling a balance bill to eliminate the worry of medical debt.

Here’s a look at what the people-friendly RBP process can look like for an employee:

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If you’re working with an RBP vendor or thinking of implementing one, don’t settle for just any vendor. To determine if they’re truly people-friendly, ask them these simple questions:

  • How do they handle balance billing?
  • Will they be a co-fiduciary for the plan and provide legal services if needed during balance billing?
  • How do they support employees in learning how to navigate the healthcare system?
  • Are they flexible to your needs?

Learn more about how employers are changing the healthcare game by implementing innovative solutions to drive down their healthcare costs by visiting GameChangerHR.com.

Why companies need HR in a seat at the table

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

As HR professionals, we’re well aware of the many unfortunate stereotypes of HR. We’re the office referee, the fashion police, the corporate party planner and the bearer of pink slips. The truth is, HR is far more valuable. As HR leaders, we are strategic advisors and revenue-drivers. We’re efficiency experts. We’re cost-savings strategists. So, it should come as no surprise when HR leaders pull their seat up to the decision-making table.

HR leaders have unique insight into their companies.
Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, and no one has as much visibility into what makes them tick like HR. We have our fingers on the pulse when it comes to employee retention, talent recruitment, productivity and even the general health of employee populations.

We’re able to identify the challenges our companies are facing. In fact, 47 percent of HR leaders claim employee retention and turnover as their top workforce management hurdle, with recruitment and corporate culture management following closely behind. Meanwhile 46 percent of HR leaders state employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover. And, 30 percent of HR leaders see the need to decrease healthcare costs for their organization.

Innovative brands are leveraging the value HR brings to boost their bottom lines.
In fact, large brands like General Motors, Dunkin’ Donuts and Xerox have seen the value of HR so much so that their CEOs all have an HR background. One of the motivating factors for this – revenue.

  • Customer loyalty improves by as much as 200 percent when employees are engaged.
  • A 10-percent investment increase in HR can boost an organization’s profits by nearly $2,000 per employee.
  • Companies that excel in talent management increase earnings by spending 27 percent less than their competitors.

Money talks and these brands are seeing the fiscal advantage of adding HR leaders to the C-Suite table.

It’s time to grab a chair and join the boardroom decision makers.
We’ve covered why it’s essential for HR to have a seat at the C-Suite table. I’ll be sharing how HR leaders can get there at the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition on Tuesday, June 19th.

Visit YourHRSeat.com for more details.

Lifting the veil on the healthcare experience

By Rob Butler, Chief Executive Officer

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It is official. The healthcare industry has reached its tipping point. There are many differing opinions per when it actually happened, but I’m not sure if it matters. What does matter is: what happens now. 

What will happen first is what you have already seen. Industry employer giants like Amazon, Apple and Comcast will repeatedly show up in the headlines as employers seek to take matters into their own hands – driven by the underlying unsustainable economics of healthcare costs that are bludgeoning their balance sheets.

The truth is, employers don’t need to wait for the "Amazons" to create new healthcare companies in order to lower their healthcare costs and help their employees get healthier. Employers just simply need a way to lift the veil on the healthcare experience, so they can understand what they’re paying for and provide their employees with the support they need.

This is already happening and it’s occurring rapidly. The egregious cost practices plaguing the system will slowly be uncovered and years from now, the true costs of healthcare will be a couple of iPhone swipes away. But that alone will not solve the problem. Consumers will need to be taught how to navigate the system and how to “buy” healthcare. The United States is one of the leading nations in the world when it comes to consuming goods, but they will need to be “taught” how to consume healthcare properly and efficiently for this to work.

That means communication has to be simplified and presented in a modern fashion verses the confusion that has traditionally aided and abetted the situation. For example, an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) cannot require a PHD education to be able to discern and understand. In-network and out-of-network discrepancies must go away. Employers will need less vendors and instead choose more comprehensive platforms that can handle the bulk of their needs.  

Employees need support to make their way through the healthcare maze.
As employers move to more comprehensive solutions that simplify and lower costs, there is no reason to sacrifice the employee experience. There are people-friendly solutions emerging in the market that help both the employers and their respective employees become better consumers of healthcare.

Vendors have gotten smarter and are offering people-friendly models that provide employees with a transparent experience, so they can understand what to expect every step of the way. One example of this is a people-friendly reference-based pricing model, which includes negotiating pricing on the behalf of an employee and notifying them of the best price option for the best quality of care, prior to services being rendered.

A people-friendly pricing model is designed to provide the support and advocacy required to prevent any financial or legal harm to the employer or employee. In the end, this new model helps employees understand the cost of care – making them better consumers of healthcare.

It’s an exciting time to be in the healthcare industry. Issues like the lack of transparency and support that have been creating headaches for far too long, for everyone, are finally being corrected with innovative solutions. If you are headed to HLTH next week, you’re likely to catch a peek at many of the latest innovative healthcare solutions. You can also catch me at HLTH. I’ll be a part of the panel discussion on “Employers: Owning the Employee Experience” on Monday, May 7th at 3:40 pm PT.

Check out everything else going on at HLTH here.  

Why Brokers Need to Manage Their Clients’ Healthcare Supply Chain

By Cory Friedman, Vice President, Benefits Consulting, GCG Financial

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As business leaders, our clients know that procurement of goods and services is at the heart of good business practice, and most manage their supply chain with diligence to ensure suppliers meet standards for quality and affordability. Yet, most employers don’t view healthcare services in the same light, and with healthcare as one of their highest costs, they really should be.

In fact, most employers have outsourced the design and management of healthcare services to a broker, consultant or health insurers that have little incentive to improve quality or affordability. In doing so, employers lose control and expose themselves (and their employees) to the wasteful business practices embedded in healthcare and provider contracts. Why are so many employers disconnected from managing one of the most important and costly expenditures for their organizations?

Employers have delegated accountability for healthcare services to human resources, seeing it as a “benefit” rather than a service to be procured in an effort to maintain the health, well-being and satisfaction of their workforce. The end result is predictable: immense and costly variations in access, quality and safety.

The response to the rising cost of healthcare is often reactive (and misguided), passing a portion of costs to employees or shifting the burden of purchasing healthcare services to them through high deductible heatlh plans or health savings accounts.

Employers are in the healthcare business, whether they like it or not.
According to the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), which represents 420 large employers on health policy issues, employers project the total cost of providing medical and pharmacy benefits to rise by 5% for the fifth consecutive year in 2018, bringing the total cost to $14,156 per employee. If an employer has 100 employees, that means they’re managing a $1.4 million healthcare business. At 1,000 employees, their healthcare business is valued at over $14,000,000.

So, what are you doing to manage your clients’ multi-million dollar healthcare businesses?
In today’s ever-evolving employee benefits landscape, we, as brokers and consultants, have an opportunity (maybe even an obligation), to change the game and see ourselves as healthcare supply chain managers willing to challenge our clients to think differently. We have to change our mindset and work to disrupt the status quo.

Successful brokers are not helping employers hold down cost increases by raising employee costs, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Instead, they’re applying supply chain methods to healthcare purchasing.

Starting with a self-funded health plan, which gives employers the advantage of examining their data, the best performing companies are building plan designs that work best for their company, identifying targets of opportunity and creating incentives for employees.

When you examine the data, you’ll find wide variations in charges by hospitals. Reimbursements by private insurers can be as much as ten times higher than Medicare reimbursements for hospitals within the same geographic area. To address this, employers are designing health plans and creating incentives designed to encourage employees to use more cost-effective providers. For example, start with high-cost elective surgeries that have a wide variation in price and quality among providers: total joint replacement, spine surgery, cardiac surgery and bariatric surgery, to name a few.

You can put the brakes on rising healthcare costs, without compromising access to quality healthcare for your clients’ employees, with help from the right partners. Partnering with a solution provider that offers an innovative and personalized health plan management approach is key to helping your clients fight skyrocketing premiums.  Ask yourself, “Are you skilled in defending the status quo, or leading performance improvement to give your clients the ability to compete and win?”

Recently I spoke on a webinar, where we took a deeper dive on how some brokers are advising their clients to drive down costs. Click here to download, “Change the game: How employers are winning against skyrocketing premiums.”

Cory provides guidance and objective analysis of group insurance benefits and is currently responsible for the health insurance and employee benefit programs of more than 200 privately held organizations across the country. In 2016, he was selected as a Young Gun Award recipient by Insurance Business America, which recognizes young professionals making a significant impact in the insurance industry. Cory was also named a “Rising Star” in 2017 and 2018 by Employee Benefit Adviser, earning recognition as one of 20 advisers nationally age 35 and younger who exhibit quick thinking, openness to change, and the ability to navigate the ever-changing employee benefit landscape.

The AXA Acquisition: Culture for the Win

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

By now you may have heard the news – Maestro Health™ has been acquired by AXA, the French-based global insurance leader. This is a huge step for Maestro Health in furthering our company’s mission of making employee health and benefits people-friendly again. One of the major factors that ignited this decision was our people and culture.

Having our culture be a driving factor for this acquisition is an incredible compliment to the entire Maestro family. 
One of our in-person meetings with the AXA team took place in our Charlotte office, where it became evident how deep our culture runs. At the end of the second day of meetings, several AXA representatives approached me and asked, “Is it always like this?” They were referring to the way the people at Maestro Health, including the leadership team, interact with each other. We operate with transparency and foster a supportive environment where ideas can be shared and healthy conversations naturally happen, even when we don’t agree. I think they were surprised by how much we genuinely enjoy working together. Not only could they see our core values painted on our walls, but they witnessed Maestronites regularly embodying those values.

AXA has been very open in sharing that after discovering how closely our culture and vision aligned with theirs, they knew they wanted to join forces with us.

They saw us as so much more than an employee health and benefits company – they wanted the opportunity to invest in our human capital.
At Maestro Health, we like to refer to ourselves as “the most experienced startup.” When our company was founded in 2013, our CEO Rob Butler, set out to hire and acquire the most talented and smartest people he could find. This was apparent to AXA as our teams demonstrated their breadth of experience and industry knowledge.

AXA appreciated the fact that our culture doesn’t pigeonhole people into a particular corporate style. Maestronites come from many walks of life and reside all over the U.S., but our baseline is our core values – from there we build on that sameness while we embrace our miles in geography and diversity in our employee base. The AXA team was able to see this for themselves, rather than just hear me and others speak about it. That made a huge impression on them.

Let the fun begin.
I’m thrilled to begin this next chapter with Maestro Health and AXA. I’m extremely proud of the culture and talent our company possesses, and that it led to such a unique acquisition that will transform the U.S. healthcare market. It’s also exciting to imagine the difference Maestro Health can make in the international market to solve the challenges HR teams are experiencing overseas. From where I’m sitting, we’re already ahead of the game.

Click here to learn more about how AXA and Maestro Health are taking a step towards transforming healthcare.

A CHRO's Perspective on #BrokerMinds: Part 1

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

As a CHRO, it’s evident that the shift towards healthcare consumerism has led to a major reshaping of employee health and benefits – and brokers are more valuable than ever. Being on the employer-side of things, I’ve always really valued the role of brokers, but sometimes approach things differently. So I teamed up with our marketing team to commission a third-party study of benefits brokers, consultants and advisors to help all of us step into the mind of today’s brokers to learn about technology adoption preferences. The data uncovered three distinct broker personalities based on their technological mindset – Analog Consultants, Receptive Next Gen Brokers and Automation Leaders.

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Chances are you’ve done all the hard work to ensure you have the right broker for your organization and value all they have to offer. In this three-part blog series, I’ll be diving into the data and sharing my perspective on how HR professionals can get the most out of their broker relationship – no matter what type of broker you have. First up, Analog Consultants.

Step into the mind of Analog Consultants.
Analog Consultants tend to take more of a traditional approach to consulting when compared to the other two broker personalities. They have a wealth of experience and pride themselves on the service they provide to their clients. This service-minded approach is likely the reason they tend to have such long-standing relationships with their clients.

While they may be more traditional, they do have an interest in exploring new benefits technology on behalf of their clients – 25 percent stating an interest in learning more about online enrollment tools and 20 percent expressing the same interest in benefits administration tools.

A significant reason for this interest is their concern about staying relevant to their robust book of clients. In fact, 45 percent of Analog Consultants agreed that one of their concerns was staying relevant to the changing needs of technology.

Yet over a third of these consultants aren’t considering Ben Admin tools – meaning some of these same consultants are not adapting to the current industry trends and could be missing key solutions to solve their clients’ needs. The key to all Analog Consultants—no matter where they fall within this data—is identifying their tendencies and communicating your organizations’ needs to them clearly. 

Getting the most out of your relationship.
In my experience, HR professionals who work with an Analog Consultant have a long-vested relationship and rely heavily on them for their legal and compliance knowledge. In fact, 69 percent of Analog Consultants view remaining compliant as one of their clients’ top priorities. However, 69 percent of them also view maximizing benefits offerings as one of their clients’ top challenges.

If this rings true for your organization, then it’s essential to continue engaging in these discussions to ensure your strategy aligns. For instance, if maximizing benefit offerings is a true challenge for your organization, then be sure you are leveraging your broker’s service-minded attitude for assistance. Invite them into the office to host meetings with employees to discuss the benefit offerings available to them and provide the consultation they need. This will help your employees to have the same level of comfort with the benefits your broker is advising as you do.

However, if compliance and benefit offerings are not a top concern for your company, then perhaps it’s time to initiate discussions with your broker to ensure your strategy and goals are aligned. For instance, if HR technology like Ben Admin solutions is of interest to you, be sure you communicate that with your broker. While blue-chip service is a great asset for any broker to have, ensuring you have access to the technology you need to ease administrative burdens and ultimately lower employee health and benefit costs is essential. After all, your broker only knows what is communicated with them.

Take a deeper look into your broker’s mind.
Get the full data on Analog Consultants and other broker personalities by downloading the “2018 Broker Tech Trend Report.”

Stay tuned. Next I’ll be sharing my perspective on the minds of the Receptive Next Gen Brokers.

The AXA Acquisition: Behind the scenes

By Rob Butler, Chief Executive Officer

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As you may know by now, Maestro Health has been acquired by AXA. It’s been hard to keep the news to myself especially when you take pride in leading a company with an open book-type culture. So, when you know your company is about to take a huge next step in their mission to transform the U.S. healthcare industry, yet you’re unable to share your excitement until the appropriate moment, it’s tough. So, now that I’m able to, I’d like to share the behind scenes events that has led to this momentous occasion for Maestro Health.

As a privately-owned company, acquisition was always an inevitable outcome.  However, this happened way before anyone imagined it, and frankly, fell into our lap. This was not in our plans, nor was it on our radar. I actually took the first meeting with AXA last spring on a recommendation from a friend. Since that meeting, a pretty interesting chain of events occurred – one that culminated in Maestro Health being acquired by a French company that happens to be the largest insurance company in the world ($100 billion in annual revenue, in euros, that is).

Wow. Just writing that number is a bit mind boggling.
It’s kind of cool to think that after only four short years since its founding, Maestro Health is now part of the AXA family— an international company that operates in 64 countries and has over 1mm clients. What an opportunity for both our employees and clients.  

Acquisitions by large companies like this don’t always feature great outcomes for all the key parties such as clients, employees and management teams. Many times, it will be a good thing for some of the key constituents, but rarely do all the parties have favorable outcomes. We CEOs stand up in front of our employees, clients and partners and ensure them that all will be OK, and sometimes it is – but, frankly, sometimes it’s not. 

This one just made too much sense to say no.
Imagine. If you were in my shoes and sat down over the course of three months and discovered the 42nd most recognizable brand in the world shared the same vision, strategy, culture and aspirations as we do – to ultimately transform the U.S. healthcare market by simplifying the experience, lowering costs and empowering consumers—or what we call “making health and benefits people-friendly again.” And then, to top it off, you uncovered they were seeking to enter the U.S. market with a continuum of care model that truly empowers consumers in making the right healthcare decisions—exactly what we have. If you are like me, when I first heard it, I didn’t believe it. So, I listened closer. And it got better. They also recognized that the HR profession wasn’t meant for professionals to be bogged down in paperwork or disparate systems that left them no time to build teams or support their employees. In addition, they saw that the current system of health and benefits is not setup to truly empower employees (consumers) to lead healthier, happier and ultimately, better lives—inside and outside of the workplace. I was now thinking this could be very interesting. And then the final piece. They looked at our comprehensive platform, maestroEDGE™, and knew this was exactly what was needed to turn the U.S. healthcare industry upside down.

I must admit, even with all the proverbial stars aligning, I still just wasn’t sure. When I started Maestro Health, I did so by hiring and acquiring the most talented and driven people I could find who shared our vision and mission to make employee health and benefits people-friendly again. We built this company with a lot of long nights, hard work and determination—and have had a ton of fun along the way. I needed to make sure this partnership would be in the best interest of those wonderful people that have become my second family.

That’s when I knew for sure.
AXA has no team in the U.S. to run Maestro Health, nor any desire to do so. They insist we stay long-term and run the company. When I heard that, and fact checked it, I knew. Here was my chance to keep our team and employees together for a long time to come. That’s exactly what I was looking for and maybe the most important factor in considering an opportunity like this. There is so much we want to accomplish and keeping the team and employees together is vital to that success.

Besides our employees, clients win big too.
I’m thrilled that we will eventually have a breadth and depth of products and services that most others cannot provide – with the same people and same service teams our clients know and trust. And of course, going from the most experienced startup to now being a part of the 42nd largest brand in the world (and the number one global insurance for eight consecutive years) will provide even more reassurance to our clients that we have long-term financial viability dedicated to the long haul. Plus, being a standalone subsidiary ensures we won’t get lost or stifled with corporate bureaucracy and lose our entrepreneurial spirit, which our clients appreciate so much. We are going to get our cake and eat it too, which is pretty rare, in my experience.

Thomas Burberl, AXA CEO, visited the U.S. and invited me to sit down and talk. I’ve had the privilege of meeting several Fortune 500 CEOs. Thomas, by far, is the most genuine. He wants to make an impact in the U.S. and the lives of every healthcare consumer—and he is committed to doing so. He said he heard we had a great team (I’m biased, but yes, I believe we do), and he asked me if I would stay and run the business. I shook his hand on that day and promised to do just that. I intend to keep my promise.

This is going to be a fun ride.

Click here to learn more.

Inside mLIFE: The Wall of Heroes

Each year, the Maestro Health™ Charlotte office participates in a tradition that has become known as the “Wall of Heroes” and “Wall of Hope” in honor of cancer awareness month. Throughout the month, Maestronites post photos, words of encouragement and stories from cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to cancer. Here’s one of those stories from one of our Maestronites, Susan Hobbs:

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When asked if I would like to write a few words on why I helped create and participate in the “Wall of Heroes” and “Wall of Hope” I hesitated, as I am not a writer and sometimes struggle to find the words that convey my feelings. But then I was reminded of how important it is for us to tell our stories, because we never know who may have gone through or is currently going through something similar and is struggling or feeling alone. I love telling the story of my little hero, but I will try to keep it short.

 In June of 1990, my life changed forever. While in the hospital after giving birth to my daughter, my husband visited with our four (almost five) year old son Matthew, who wasn't feeling well. Later he told his dad he couldn't hear out of his "telephone" ear (his left ear he used while talking on the phone). The next few days led to a doctor's visit with an ear infection diagnosis, horrible headaches to lethargy, then an MRI a week later that showed Matthew had medulloblastoma. My baby had cancer.

Over the next eleven months, we grieved the loss of the healthy, vibrant life of our little boy but we also celebrated his life and the blessing and miracle that he was and still is to us. We made every second as full of life as we possibly could for him. As a huge basketball-lover, he was able to go to as many Charlotte Hornets games as he felt up to, met his favorite athletes (even Michael Jordan) and never lacked love and support from everyone he met. He was such a warrior.

We are a family of strong faith and I can honestly say that we never gave up hope. Sadly, Matthew lost his fight on June 4th, 1991. This year marked 27 years since I held my baby. But, I will always hold him in my heart and I believe and thank God I will one day see him again.


So, I participate in the “Wall of Heroes” and “Wall of Hope” to help keep Matthew’s memory alive and to help raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer. To be honest, before Matthew was diagnosed, I don't think I gave much thought to childhood cancer. I knew it existed but had no clue how many children were diagnosed each year or the lack of funding there is for research for a cure. Sadly, I now know.

There are so many others, as the wall shows, whose lives have been touched by cancer. Some have happy endings as they celebrate their survivor and their hero. And they continue to hope.

But sadly, others are remembering their loved ones that lost the fight. And we also continue to hope. We all hope for a cure. And we all celebrate our heroes!

I’m grateful that I work for a company like Maestro Health that gives us a place to share our experiences and continues to work to make the healthcare experience easier, especially during difficult times.

Check out the photos posted by our Maestronites on this year’s Wall of Heroes.

 

Why Maestro Hires Women in Tech

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

The gender gap in the tech world is no secret. It’s been around for a long time and it’s getting worse. In 1991, the rate of women in tech roles peaked at an underwhelming 36 percent and has since been on the decline with women in 2016 only holding 25 percent of tech jobs.

The secret to narrowing the gap.
At Maestro Health™, we don’t have a deliberate diversity program. And yet, we don’t experience the significant gender gap like so many other companies in the tech space. Why? Because we focus on finding and hiring the best talent. Period.  And an amazing percentage of that talent is female. Gender, race, religion, sexual orientation – none of it matters here. If you have rock star-level talent, we want you on our team regardless of what bathroom door you choose.

Show. Don’t tell.
Of course, it’s easy to say you only hire based on talent. Most companies would say they also practice this. However, if you look at who’s sitting around the leadership tables at some of these companies, it’s rare to come across a woman’s face. In fact, only 11 percent of the executive positions at Silicon Valley companies are held by women.

At Maestro Health, we have women in a myriad of leadership positions – and no, it’s not a few token positions. We have women chief officers, presidents, vice presidents, directors, managers, leads – the whole gamut. And not because they’re women. It’s because they’re the best talent for the position.

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“Women are viewed as equals and as with every other Maestronite, their leadership skills are highly valued.”  
– Misty-lyn Wogstad
  Vice President of Technology Operations


We are so heavily embedded in a myriad of facets within the tech industry that all employees are encouraged, regardless of gender, to continue growing personally and professionally. If you’re hired for one tech role, but end up having a knack in another area – you’re encouraged to explore that. Again, we don’t care about the package, we care about the person.

At Maestro Health, there's a sense of respect among employees. They've been fully supportive of my career with mentorship, creative work opportunities and recognition. I'm proud to be part of the team.”
Laura Quintero
                                     Software Developer

The fact that a gender gap exists in any industry, let alone an industry that is meant to be innovative, is detrimental. The tech world is desperate for top talent. Strategic business leaders must understand that in order to compete for the top talent of today and tomorrow, gender has to be a non-issue. You must focus on what counts – for us it’s talent, integrity, innovation and character. Picking your talent based on gender is like choosing your coffee based on the mug. Think about it.   

By the way, if you’re reading this and think you’ve got rock star-level talent – we’re always looking for talent.

Check out more of Sheryl's commentary featured in Entrepreneur. 

Where's Maestro?

By Rob Butler, Chief Executive Officer

May we first send our thoughts, support and best wishes to the city of Las Vegas for the recent horrific tragedy. Sure seems like our blog takes second precedence in the sheer scope of things.

Speaking of second precedence, you might find yourself feeling like something is missing this year. Yep. You won’t see our glowing yellow booth.
You won’t see the sessions recorded by our digital doodle artists.
And unfortunately, we won’t be hosting our rooftop party, like we had last year.

While last year’s conference was nothing short of incredible, this year, although HR tech is important to us, another precedence has emerged. Clients, clients and more clients.

People got bit by the Maestro bug last year and since then we have been busy onboarding and taking care of business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive for all those in my generation). We’ve also been partnering with key channel partners as well like Aflac, Allstate and Pear Benefits, while adding over 100+ new employer clients including some really cool ones like HDR. We’re investing time and resources to combat their administrative headaches and support HR by customizing new HR suites that fit their unique needs.

We have promised both our employer clients and our channel partners a “we’ve got your back” service experience and we meant it. Never wanting to be thought of as just a vendor who simply “sucks less,” we hire people who have a passion to make employee health and benefits people-friendly again. We’ve beefed up our customer service and operations with 48% net new hires year-to-date. They act as an extension of our clients’ HR teams, providing full transparency every step of the way.

And, it’s not just the people answering the phones who display this passion for service. Last month, our tech team persevered through natural disasters and worked diligently to release the latest version of maestroEDGE™ and (me)BILLING ADMIN™ for our clients on time, despite our Orlando office being affected by Hurricane Irma.

So yeah, we support and love HR Tech, but our clients come first. You won’t be seeing the big, yellow booth this year, but you can still visit us at our (scaled down) booth #2452 at HR Tech or check out what we’re up to at wheresmaestro.com.

Heads Up: Quick Reminder on 2017 ACA Requirements

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

“Repeal and Replace” has become a daily staple of our national newsfeeds. Our blog sites, Twitter streams and LinkedIn feeds continue to swirl around the current state of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regardless of the chatter and possible outcomes, employers still need to look at their current operating strategies to make sure they’re ACA compliant. As much as employers were looking for a modicum of ACA reporting relief, it didn’t happen. The looming ACA requirements are still the law of the land.

One such requirement is the deadline for using the new Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) template, which is now. The SBC instructions state that these new templates must be used beginning on the first day of the first open enrollment period that begins on or after April 1, 2017, with respect to coverage for the plan years beginning on or after that date. This applies to all fall and January 1, 2018 plan years.

If you’re feeling uneasy about the state of your ACA compliance, check out the following information shared by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), here. And, don’t forget, our (me)ACA SERVICES™ may be able to help with everything from data collection to form distribution. Check out how we helped the University of North Carolina (UNC) nail ACA reporting in our case study, “Conquering Compliance: How UNC did it in less than six months.”