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Last week, Reid Rasmussen, a health industry thought-leader, former healthcare executive and founder of the Dallas-based non-insurance health services company freshbenies, addressed the problem of “gaps in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)” before an audience of benefits consultants at the 2014 Workplace Benefits Mania in Las Vegas.

“We’re entering a time like the Wild West in the health care benefits space, where coverage is shrinking and prices are skyrocketing,” said Rasmussen.  “Many things that used to be covered for most Americans are no longer included in the typical employer-paid or individual plan.”

“The majority of benefits missing from the ACA fall into four categories: traditional services that are no longer offered (like dental and vision), alternative medicine, first-dollar benefits and future trends/advancements like telemedicine,” Rasmussen stated.

Traditional health services that have been carved out of the ACA range from adult vision and dental to infertility treatments and weight loss surgery.  Individuals who depend upon access to these types of benefits will now be required to pay separately for them and must find personal financing or additional insurance to be able to access them.

Alternative medicine is another category of health treatment left behind by the ACA.  In the recent years’ drive to make people better health care consumers, many people have turned to alternative treatments, such as chiropractic and massage therapy, to try to avoid more expensive alternatives, such as back surgery.  Virtually no alternative treatments are covered in the ACA so consumers who need such treatments continue to face increased out-of-pockets costs or a need to purchase supplemental insurance.

Today’s ACA medical plans leave patients responsible for many of the first expenses (up to $6,350 out of pocket costs). To fill this gap, many voluntary benefits are available that add expense in the near term, but can also produce longer term savings.  These services range from accident / disability programs to patient advocacy, price transparency or mental health. 

The last category of “missing benefits” are future trends and medical advancements. Rasmussen predicts that many medical advancements and technologies will never get included under medical insurance. He believes they will be available only for people that can afford them. Services that fall into this category are things like telemedicine, concierge doctors and genetic testing.

“Twenty years ago, ‘mandated coverage’ was the objective of companies that developed new medical advancements – it was also one of the drivers of medical inflation, but this is no longer the case,” explains Rasmussen.  “I believe that many future advancements won’t even try to be covered under health insurance.”

In addition to these gaps in the ACA, Rasmussen believes one of our biggest issues on the horizon is that there aren’t going to be enough doctors to serve Americans in the coming years.  “By 2020, we’ll be short 19,500 family physicians,” he explains.  “Imagine trying to squeeze in an appointment for the flu or a urinary tract infection with your primary care physician – you’ll most likely hear that you can’t get in for two weeks.”

Rasmussen’s company, freshbenies, was developed to help small to mid-size companies provide additional employee benefits that improve access to care and help as well as employee productivity. These benefits are helpful to employees with higher deductible plans or no insurance at all.  freshbenies offers non-insurance health services that are not included under the ACA, but are bundled together in one easy-to-use card.  These services include 24/7 access to a board-certified medical doctor, advocacy services that help Americans navigate “the system” with price transparency and medical billing help, discounts on dental, vision and prescription needs, and more.  freshbenies offers employers packages that are affordable (starting at $8.50 a month per family) while providing relief to employees dealing with today’s higher deductible medical plans.  Services like freshbenies are not intended to replace medical insurance and are usually installed alongside a company’s medical plan.

freshbenies

Founded in 2009, freshbenies helps offset the skyrocketing healthcare and out-of-pocket costs with non-insurance services. Members save time, money and frustration on everyday expenses while employers control healthcare costs. Members have access to multiple innovative services such as the ability to call a doctor 24/7 and get a prescription written (if needed), access to expert health advisors who help navigate “the system” including medical billing issues. freshbenies also provides high-quality dental, vision and prescription discount networks as well as security services – all bundled into one easy-to-use card.