The Helper Bees (THB) announced Wednesday the launch of its aging-in-place provider marketplace.
Austin, Texas-based THB is a full-service insurtech company that works to create innovative aging-in-place solutions for both payers and consumers. THB’s new marketplace — the next evolution of its “Care Concierge” program — is designed to give individuals in need of home care and other aging-in-place services direct access through a self-serve portal.
“I often pose the question ‘what does it really take to live and age in place?’” THB CEO Char Hu said in a press release announcing the news. “The truth is that the answer changes over time, and from individual to individual. This makes it extremely difficult to organize, deploy and scale in-home service offerings.”
Over 5,000 credentialed providers are part of the marketplace, according to THB.
In addition to consumers of aging-in place services, the marketplace is also meant to help payers, which sometimes hit difficulties finding in-home care providers in certain areas due to the market’s highly fragmented nature. Both payers and consumers can use the marketplace to shop for a range of available services, either independently or through THB’s Care Concierge program.
Services are paid for through a “digital wallet of credits,” according to THB. Credits can be secured by Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Medicaid organizations and PACE programs, or through private-pay services such as long-term care insurance, group plans, value-added services and employer-sponsored markets.
The aging-in-place provider marketplace is made possible by THB’s May acquisition of healthAlign, the company noted.
Similar to THB, healthAlign offers a data-driven platform to health plan and provider partners. Often, the business functions as a convener, but with a particular focus on home care.
“This one-of-a-kind combination of a member-focused team with a smart network platform enables payers to better manage all aspects of in-home programming,” Andy Friedell, founder and CEO of healthAlign, said in the release. “It’s very difficult to organize different services into the home, and even harder to get good data back from those interactions.”
THB and healthAlign have seen their businesses buoyed by the gradual expansion of MA supplemental benefits. The trend started in April 2018, when the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that MA plans could offer “non-skilled in-home care” as a supplemental benefit in certain scenarios.
CMS made a similar but separate expansion the following year.
healthAlign’s MA business has grown from about a dozen health plans in 2019 to over 200 projected for the start of 2022.
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Currently, THB and healthAlign “manage over a million and half hours of in-home services annually,” according to the press release.
“When the plan is dealing with lots of individual providers, they are creating lots of channels,” Friedell previously told Home Health Care News. “Each one of those channels is limited by that individual provider’s service offerings, as well as that provider’s fulfillment capabilities. We’re trying to give the plan one channel where they can recruit and credential providers so they can then make matches in the database between services and zip codes. Then, they can start pulling data back in a normalized format — as opposed to from lots of different systems and formats — and get everybody paid on one mechanism as well.”