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About This Episode

Prioritizing patient-centric approaches and implementing transparent financial models are imperative for addressing the intricate challenges within the healthcare industry.

In this episode, Dr. Eric Bricker, an internal medicine physician and Medical Director of Coupe Health, talks about the intricacies of the healthcare industry, touching on personal experiences, systemic challenges, and potential solutions. Due to his background in revenue cycle management consulting, he has spotlighted the need for addressing financial inefficiencies within healthcare systems. Dr. Bricker advocates integrating premium collection, risk assumption, and care delivery to streamline billing processes and improve financial models. He emphasizes the importance of patient-centric approaches and proposes solutions to promote competition and regulatory reform. Dr. Bricker also discusses Coupe Health, a navigation firm he co-founded, aiming to simplify the healthcare experience by integrating services directly into insurance plans, offering transparent pricing, and eliminating surprise bills.

Strap in for a candid conversation with Dr. Eric Bricker as he uncovers the healthcare system’s hidden complexities and potential pitfalls.

Read the transcript below and subscribe to The Edge of Healthcare on YouTube.

Martin Cody: Welcome to the Edge of Healthcare, where the pulse of innovation meets the heartbeat of leadership. I’m Martin Cody, your guide through riveting conversations with the trailblazers of healthcare. Tune in to gain exclusive access to strategies, experiences, and groundbreaking solutions from influential payer and health system leaders. This isn’t just a podcast, it’s your VIP ticket to the minds shaping the future of healthcare right now. Buckle up, subscribe, and get ready to ride to the edge of healthcare, where lessons from leaders are ready for you to use today.

Martin Cody: Excellent. And welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of The Edge of Healthcare – Lessons From Leaders to Use Right Now. I am thrilled beyond recognition and measurement of the guests that we have today. And I’d like to thank the Academy, the French Foreign Legion faculty members and guests, the student body, because this is without a doubt one of the most anticipated episodes, and we have a lot to cover and a lot to get into. Let’s get into it right now with our guest, doctor Eric Bricker. Dr. Bricker, welcome.

Erick Bricker: Hey, thanks, everybody, for having me. And thank you, Martin, as well.

Martin Cody: The pleasure is mine. And one of the things I love about healthcare is the many intersecting routes of not only career paths, but just the individuals that you get to meet. And as I was mentioning to you earlier, I was unaware of AHealthcareZ until one of our prior guests, Ron Irwin, who is the co-founder of De Facto Health, spent a long time at CAQH, mentioned that you were the individual that he would like to sit down and chat, shoot the breeze with an adult beverage, and kind of get inside your head. I then did a copious amount of research, have since subscribed to AHealthcareZ, and tried to watch as many videos as possible. And I will tell you, the Energizer Bunny couldn’t keep up with the amount of content that you produce. It is, you’re, you’re too good. It’s impossible to keep up with it. So my applause and admiration and accolades and appreciation to what you’re doing, but I want to go back a little bit to prior to AHealthcareZ and kind of talk about why did you pursue medicine.

Erick Bricker: Yeah, well, thank you, Martin, for the question. And so I originally had an interest back in the 90s when Bill Clinton was president, and Hillary Clinton was going to, you know, Hillary Care. And, you know, all this sort of healthcare was going to be, you know, fixed. And I don’t have any doctors in my family. And so every doctor I talked to, I was a teenager at the time, said, whatever you do, don’t become a doctor because government insurance carriers, HMOs, ruining the practice of medicine. And so I said, okay, well, let me kind of learn more about that side of medicine before I decide whether or not I do want to be a doctor. And so I actually started out somewhat of a similar background to you. I started out at a revenue cycle management consulting firm right out of college, and so I had no idea what it was or anything like that. I mean, I was 21 years old, and so I actually worked in a hospital revenue cycle management for a firm that was acquired by it was called Stockman Associates. It was acquired by Huron. They actually did RCM for like major academic medical centers, like the biggest places across the country. And a lot of the people are familiar with like R1. A lot of the people that I used to work with went on to then work at R1. And in spite of all that, I still wanted to be a doctor. And so I just saw how much confusion and frustration there was on the part of, you know, doctors and hospitals and obviously the patients as well. And so I knew as a physician, I kind of wanted to have a little bit of an atypical career path in terms of not only helping my patients but also helping them in sort of the larger financial context and the billing context, because so much of healthcare outside of the actual, you know, care itself is just such a disaster, and if there was some small way I could help improve that disaster, well, then I wanted to be a part of that.

Martin Cody: And, you know, it’s interesting you say that because I did spend probably 30-some-odd years provider facing in my healthcare career, and it wasn’t until joining Madaket in 2019 that I realized, wow, there’s a whole heck of a lot of just complete complexity that’s unnecessary, that exists prior to the provider-patient encounter. And it is the same type of complexity that it sounds like you were discovering in the 90s from a revenue cycle side, and that’s just one component of it. And this is probably a long question, if an even longer answer, but it’s been 30 years since you made that first discovery. Why isn’t it fixed yet?

Erick Bricker: That’s a great question. I was hoping you had the answer.

Martin Cody: I’m working on it.

Erick Bricker: Yeah, so it’s one of these things where it’s not a flaw. It’s a feature of.

Martin Cody: Totally.

Erick Bricker: And so at the end of the day, look, we’re getting there. And by getting there, I mean essentially the combination of the collection of premium, and the assumption of risk, and the delivery of care all under the same roof. So the best way to fix a billing problem is to not have bills in the first place. And so essentially, whether people like it or not, the health insurance carriers are becoming Kaiser. And some of the major hospital systems like UPMC and Intermountain are becoming Kaiser. And so this whole idea of assuming risk and collecting premium and delivering care is, you know, it’s slow because everything in healthcare is slow. But organizations that have done that are infinitely the provider organizations. So UPMC and Intermountain and all the other ones that actually take on risk and collect premium are in infinitely better financial shape than the hospital systems that don’t.

Martin Cody: It’s interesting you say that because I think it was, Axios recently had a report this week or last week that indicated, you know, greater than 35% of the hospitals today have a negative operating margin.

Erick Bricker: That’s right.

Martin Cody: And that’s just not a sustainable model. And when you get back to getting everything underneath one roof, in my opinion this is a feature, not a bug. But when you have a payer that owns the businesses that determine the amount, you’re going to get paid, and then they’re also the bank that’s paying you. And specifically, you had a great example recently of … got acquired by Change Healthcare, which got acquired by Optum, which is owned by United. So United is the payer in this case, determining the inpatient days of which you’re going to be reimbursed and how long that patient can stay there. Seems like we have way too many instances of the fox guarding the hen house.

Erick Bricker: That’s right. And so essentially, third-party payment in many situations akin to non-payment.

Martin Cody: Right, right.

Erick Bricker: It’s like, to your point, that’s not really sustainable. So it is, now it’s really become a world of the haves and the have-nots. On the hospital system side, where there are hospital systems that are struggling big time, but there’s other hospital systems that are just knocking it out of the park financially. So it’s really and that’s very typical, right? Because it’s a very ever since COVID, it’s been a very stressful environment and stress tends to sort of unify the market. So when you mow your lawn, you’re applying stress to the lawn so that you only have grass and you don’t have weeds, right? So there’s not a diversity of flora in your lawn when you stress it. And likewise, when you stress a hospital system environment, you’re going to have less of a diversity of hospital systems because it’s just going to basically wipe out the weeds, and by the weeds, I mean the small and struggling hospital systems. I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t predict the future, but that is likely to continue into the future.

Martin Cody: All right, so we’ll put the crystal balls away, and we won’t predict the future, but let’s take a look at the most recent past. And so we are as of this recording, we’re kind of on the heels of some significant turmoil in healthcare. One, you’ve got the change healthcare cyberattack, which brought almost the entire industry to its knees from one weak chink in the chain. And the other one you have is the closing of all of the Walmart and exiting the primary care Walgreens, basically saying, VillageMD, you’re done and recognizing while this whole provision of and delivery of healthcare is hard. So if these giant juggernauts and I want your clinical take on this and your physician take on this and the retail side is so challenging, does the independent practitioner look at this and say, how am I ever going to make a living? And their frustration just shows no signs of abatement.

Erick Bricker: So it’s a very good topic to discuss, and it’s important, because this podcast is really for people who are earlier in their career. It’s very important to understand that because healthcare is $4.5 trillion, it’s, you know, 18% of the GDP. It’s not one industry. It’s essentially dozens of industries that are actually very different from each other, okay? And so with Walmart Health and what Walgreens with VillageMD were attempting to address is specifically lower intensity primary care and urgent care. That is not, quote-unquote, healthcare in its totality. Okay, so it’s very important to understand that Walmart Health, and Walgreens, and VillageMD were not attempting to, quote-unquote, solve healthcare. They were addressing a very small sliver of healthcare, which was primary care, urgent care, and it was fee-for-service, primary care, urgent care. Okay, so that is a very small niche of the $4.5 trillion, okay? And so, for example, the providers that are making money hand over fist in the provision of care aren’t doing it there. No, they’re doing it in highly reimbursed outpatient surgeries like total knee and total hip replacements, which is why Tenet, look at Tenet Health stock chart, okay? That is up and to the right, all right? And what is Tenet doing? They’re trying to get out of the hospital business and focus on high-margin, lucrative outpatient surgery. So, guess what? You can make gobs of money being a quote-unquote provider in healthcare, but it’s in a completely different market segment than what Walmart Health and what VillageMD were trying to accomplish. So it’s not a question of they were, quote-unquote, unable to solve healthcare. Listen, if you’re trying to address primary care, then the economic model cannot be in the fee-for-service provision of primary care services. Nobody can make money in primary care that way. Hospital systems lose money on their primary care practices because they use them as referral feeders for higher dollar, higher margin outpatient surgery. Orthopedic, cardiovascular services. Hospital systems can’t even make money on their primary care. Okay, fine. CVS has had MinuteClinics and Healthhubs, which are arguably analogous to what Walmart Health and what VillageMD were doing. However, CVS makes all of its money through its PBM. So the model is you get your prescription at your Healthhub, MinuteClinic, you fill it at the CVS, and they’re not even trying to make money off the pharmacy. We’re like, okay, well, you fill it at Walmart, or you fill it at the Walgreens, and you make money off the pharmacy. No, the pharmacy is not where the money is made. And Walgreens and Walmart don’t own PBMs. The money in pharmacy is made in the PBM. So the way that CVS monetizes its MinuteClinics and its Healthhubs is through the PBM. So now the final point I’ll make is, is that risk-based primary care like ChenMed, where they’re going at total risk for Medicare Advantage lives. They make money hand over fist over primary care. It’s not fee-for-service primary care. It’s total cost of care capitated risk, so primary care.

Martin Cody: I was going to say, let’s pull on the ChenMed thread for just a second. Then, I want to come back to something else that you said about CVS. On the Capitated risk model, explain to the audience what you’re referring to as it relates to physician reimbursement.

Erick Bricker: So in a capitated risk primary care model, and ChenMed is not the only group, there’s others, especially in California, there’s a lot of primary care groups that go at risk for their patient population, and typically the patient population is Medicare Advantage. And what the actual Medicare Advantage premium per beneficiary depends upon how sick they are and how many medical conditions they have. It’s called risk adjustment. But let’s just say, on average, it’s about $18,000 per patient per year, okay? That means that that primary care practice is doing everything it can to keep its members healthy and out of the hospital. And if it can deliver, and those primary care practices oftentimes can deliver their care, total cost of care. So like sometimes people need to get hospitalized, sometimes they get cancer, sometimes they need to have surgery, yadda yadda yadda. But the total cost of care for those patients who are under that primary care model is only about $12,000 per year, which means that the primary care practice is keeping six grand per patient per year. Now, your typical primary care physician might see a patient like twice a year, and their billing, and they’re getting reimbursed from like Medicare or Medicare Advantage, like $80 per visit. So, your typical primary care practice is getting $160 per beneficiary, and ChenMed is getting $6,000 per beneficiary. And so the economic model for that is obviously infinitely more lucrative for ChenMed than it is for a quote-unquote fee-for-service primary care. So, primary care through traditional fee-for-service, yes, that economic model does not work. That does not mean that Walmart, and Walgreens, and VillageMD are dumb. That just means that nobody can do it. So you stop trying, okay? And all the primary care doctors that are actually successful that are independent, they’re going the concierge medicine or the direct primary care route where it’s a subscription, and they’re collecting 100 bucks a month, $1,200 a year for somebody to be a subscribed patient, and there’s no billing. So it can work, just not in the traditional fee-for-service model.

Martin Cody: No, and I agree. So those folks are betting, literally and figuratively, that if we can take our members and keep them healthy and make certain that our cost is below the $18,000 and do it across the mean, then we will be in a good financial shape to pay for all of the administrative expenses and the staff and everything like that. So again, it gets back to what I’ve been saying for years. If you want to beat the healthcare system, stay out of it and just stay healthy from that standpoint. But the other threat I wanted to pull on with regards to CVS, and this coincides and is adjacent to the attempt by Walmart and Village as it relates to primary care. You know, they have made 20-some odd billion or $28 billion investments in Signify and Oak Street. So it would seem that they are wanting to, not only because of the pharmacies, within 15 minutes of about 70% of the population is CVS pharmacy. They want to bring the care into the patient’s home, if you will, and then refer to Oak Street and then, you know, do the whole model and have that control over that. Would that then allow them, since they own the PBM, to be able to have a larger patient feeder system, if you will, and then just continue to crank out the money machine?

Erick Bricker: Good question. And so this is where the overall model for how to basically make money in healthcare. We’ll just call it the United Health Group model, okay? And so all CVS is trying to do with Oak Street and Signify is they’re just trying to play catch up with what United Health Group does with Optum. That’s all it is. Anthem is doing the same thing and Cigna is doing the same thing, right? And so all realized that, and because, you know I talked before about the stock chart for Tenet Health. Again, look at the stock chart for United Health Group since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Literally, the …, the compounded annual growth rate of United since 2010 is the same as Apple’s. Apple just started at a higher market capitalization, which is why they have like a $2 trillion market cap and United’s is still sub a trillion. But in terms of the.

Martin Cody: 3 trillion, what’s a paltry children among juggernauts?

Erick Bricker: That’s right, but the … Is the same. So keep in mind United as a growth vehicle has been phenomenal, okay? And so CVS, and Cigna, and Anthem aren’t stupid. They’re not trying to go in some other strategic direction. They’re just trying to copy United’s strategy.

Martin Cody: Interesting. So I want to get back to your clinical days, because I think the physician life, and it seems we’re seeing a downward trend in number of physicians entering or number of individuals entering healthcare at the physician level and nursing level. There’s been a nursing shortage for at least the last 7 to 10 years. And I’m curious: does it ever seem or do you walk out of clinic and say, God, this is incredibly difficult and frustrating because I just saw 35 patients today, and I have no idea what I’m ever going to get paid for that? And there’s too many hands in the cookie jar, and there’s got to be a better way.

Erick Bricker: Well, the physicians that are in certain specialties absolutely feel that way. And again, healthcare is very big, right?

Martin Cody: It’s not all physicians, yeah.

Erick Bricker: Physician practices are very different, okay? So, even calling them all physicians is actually not accurate. Because what they really are is they are their specialty. They aren’t a cardiologist, or they are a dermatologist. Okay. And actually, cardiologists and dermatologists have very little in common, and they have very little in common in terms of the economic models of their practices. The economics of a dermatology practice and of a cardiology practice are like night and day, like they’re not even close. So they’re hugely different. So, to your point, are there physicians specifically in fee-for-service, primary care, pediatrics, family practice, and outpatient internal medicine? Disaster. Okay, being an independent in those situations is nearly impossible, which is why they’re all joining physician-owned hospital groups, because the hospital systems that are able to make positive margins off their lucrative commercial insurance contracts for their facility fees. In other words, they do a spine surgery, and they’re able to collect 200 grand on it. And at the end of the day, it only cost them like 25 grand to deliver it. So they’re able to take the 175 grand in margin from that spine surgery and then use that to pay the, partially pay for the salaries of the primary care physicians who can’t even cover their own income, right? So there’s that sort of internal cross-subsidization that has to happen within a large hospital system. Now, there are other specialties like radiology where radiologists are making money through the roof. Okay. I mean, now is a ridiculously lucrative time to be a radiologist.

Martin Cody: What precipitated that?

Erick Bricker: What precipitated that is that there has been an increase in the amount of imaging that has been ordered, specifically in the ER, so the amount of ER. So back when I did my training in the early 2000, they never did MRIs in the ER. If you were to get an MRI, either had to be scheduled as an outpatient or you had to be sick enough to be admitted. And then as an inpatient, you would get like, you know, you’re concerned that you have a stroke, you get admitted to the hospital, you get the MRI as an inpatient because they’re concerned you have a stroke, right? ERs now routinely do MRIs in the ER, so just for an ER visit. Like my arm hurts, we’ll get an MRI of your upper extremity, okay? And so what happens is that radiologists, when they read a film, okay, that has a certain number of RVUs, okay, and that number of RVUs. In other words, the amount of work that is quote-unquote done is actually the equivalent of what, like a 20 to 30-minute office visit would be for a primary care doctor that radiologists can read those films much faster, and so that when you add up the total RVUs in a year for a radiologist versus a primary care doctor, a primary care doctor will generate approximately 4000 RVUs per year. A radiologist will generate 22,000 RVUs per year over five times as many RVUs. Are they working five times as long? Our primary care doctors only working ten hours a week, and radiologists are working 50 hours a week? No. So the RVUs per hour are over five times higher for radiologists than they are for primary care physicians, and that’s just the economics of radiology.

Martin Cody: You brought up a great point earlier about the size of the healthcare system, and it’s so multifaceted. So from a guidance standpoint, if someone is entering healthcare or has been in healthcare for the first 1 to 2, 3 years of their career, is there a specific area, whether it’s disruptive technology, operational efficiency, clinical, is there anything that you would say, you know, if I were you and you’re looking to have this type of lifestyle or outcome or fulfillment or pride, satisfaction, gratification, what area would you shepherd them into healthcare?

Erick Bricker: Yeah, that’s a great question. And the short answer is, is that the opportunities are nearly infinite, again, because healthcare is 18% of the GDP, right? I mean, at 4.5 trillion, it’s larger than like most countries in the world. It’s like saying, okay, well, if you lived in Germany, what kind of job would you want to have in Germany? I don’t know, there’s a lot of jobs in Germany. You could have all sorts of jobs in Germany, you could pour beer, you could make Porsches, like there’s a tons of different jobs you can have, right? So in healthcare, then the opportunities are infinite. Okay, so some people are like, well, I’m a people person. Okay, great. Some people are like, I’m really not a people person. I’m a data person, okay? Like you name it, you can find a spot in it. Okay. Now the question becomes, whatever spot you are in, what’s the right way to approach that spot? And I will tell you my take on that and my take on that is whatever position you have, whether it’s an administration or software development or direct patient care or research. The question you should ask yourself is, is the patient being put first? What can I do to put the patient first in my software? What can I do to put the patient first in my research? What can I do to put the patient first in my revenue cycle management consulting? Because the central problem in healthcare is that the patient is not put first.

Martin Cody: Along those lines, and we mentioned earlier, the Affordable Care Act, and probably one of the most recent large legislative pieces that passed, was the No Surprises Act, and yet, a large portion of the No Surprises Act, specifically around provider data compliance. Attestation of accurate information is designed to benefit the patient and or member because the words seem to be interchangeable. And yet the adoption of the requirements, now going on two and a half years, has been at a snail’s pace. And there is still the member goes to the hospital directory or the physician organization directory and find me a doctor. The information is still inaccurate. A lot of folks say it says you’re out of network, when in fact, I know you’re in network. So if I love the optics and the lens through which we should be looking at is the patient first, it would seem that there’s a huge opportunity for a lot of these folks to look at themselves in the mirror, and these organizations say, this is not helping our members, this is not helping the patient. And so, why do you think the adoption of the No Surprises Act has been so slow?

Erick Bricker: Great question. So, anytime any industry does not put its customers first, it tends to be because there is a lack of competition problem. Let me give you an example. Moving companies, okay? No one has ever had a good experience with moving. It’s horrible.

Martin Cody: Yep.

Erick Bricker: Okay, it is generally an incredibly infrequent service that you don’t repeat very often. And so the moving company is now really incentivized to provide good service. Okay, let’s use the opposite of that. Let’s use the grocery store, okay? The grocery store is awesome, okay? The grocery experience in America is absolutely amazing. You walk in, and there’s literally 40,000 different items. You can have it delivered to your house. You can get in, get out. I mean, the produce is ridiculously fresh. When you and I were growing up, you could not get strawberries year-round. You can now get strawberries year-round. It doesn’t matter. No matter what you can get, right? Because it’s a frequent service that has a lot of competition. It’s very easy to go to a different grocery store, right? And so the problem with healthcare is that it’s very infrequently used by people and there’s not enough competition. And so, the answer to making healthcare patient-centric is to make it competitive. And so healthcare is so dominated by such large organizations. And there’s a lack of competition among hospital systems, there’s a lack of competition among insurance carriers, there’s a lack of competition among pharmaceutical companies because of patent protection for their specific pharmaceutical drug. Okay. So healthcare is not patient-centric because healthcare has a huge lack of competition problem, and people within these organizations are not going to be customer-centric out of the kindness of their heart. They will only be customer-centric when it is good business to be customer-centric, and when there is a lack of competition, then it’s actually good business to not be customer-centric, right? So if you want healthcare to be more customer-centric, you have to dramatically increase the competition within healthcare.

Martin Cody: You know, it’s interesting, I do remember that growing up in the Chicago area in the 80s and 90s and 2000, you’re right about hospital competition back 25, 30 years ago because if so and so got a helicopter pad, then the hospital across town got a helicopter pad. If so, and so got this trauma designation, then the other company or other hospital competing health system, they also needed to have that trauma designation because otherwise, they were going to be pulling from their potential patient population. So how do you instill competition in the highly fragmented healthcare system of today?

Erick Bricker: So right now, we live in an in-between world where we both have a lack of competition and we have regulatory capture, meaning that the hospital systems and the insurance carriers have essentially one over control of the regulators of the federal government, state governments. Okay, so the Affordable Care Act was meant to, quote-unquote, regulate insurance. And then you look at the stock price of every single insurance company, the insurance industry, one from the Affordable Care Act, okay, the Affordable Care Act was the best thing that ever happened to the insurance industry. And it was meant to, quote-unquote, put them in their place. So the Affordable Care Act is the perfect example of regulatory capture, where the insurance industry took what is what was supposed to be, quote-unquote, regulation of them, and they turned it into a financial boon. Okay. So there are two things that you can do. You either need to go 100% with a state-run healthcare system like most of the world has, or you need to break up the massive healthcare organizations and the major hospital systems, and the insurance carriers need to go through what AT&T went through.

Martin Cody: I was just going to say what all the baby bells went through.

Erick Bricker: And you need to be broken up, so they’re too bad. Okay, so everybody’s healthcare needs to change. healthcare needs to change, okay? You can’t change, okay, so UPMC just laid off quote-unquote 1% of its workforce, okay? Guess how many people that was? It was 1000 people.

Erick Bricker: That means UPMC employs a hundred thousand people. You mean to tell me you’re going to change an organization that employs 100,000 people? There’s no way United employs 70,000 people. Are you going to change an organization that has 70,000 people? There’s no way. These organizations are too big to be changed. You’re never going to change them, as they exist as behemoths. The only way they’re going to change is if they’re much smaller and they have to compete with each other.

Martin Cody: Honestly, we could talk about these things for hours, and I would love to someday. But I do want to have you talk to me in US about Coupe Health. Tell me a little bit about that and the goals there.

Erick Bricker: So I, along with two partners, started a healthcare navigation firm called Compass Professional Health Services in 2007, and we grew that business to about 2000 employer clients and about 1.8 million people that we helped navigate the US healthcare system. And we sold that business in 2018, and we learned so much about how to navigate people through the US healthcare system that we knew that we needed to actually be the carrier itself as the navigation engine. And so Coupe Health is actually a subsidiary of Blue Cross of Minnesota, where we have the navigation service baked into the insurance company so that there’s not a separate entity that you use for navigation. We replace customer service at the insurance company so that you don’t talk to, quote-unquote, customer service at the insurer. You talk to a healthcare navigator who literally is like, you know, so you’re like, hey, I’m Joe, and I got this thing and I got this insurance, what do I do? And that’s literally like 90% of the conversations that we have because people have no clue, right? I mean, they’re like, I don’t know. And like, we had engineers, we had PhDs, working at microchip companies. I mean, these people are smart, and they’re like, my name is Vincent, and I got this thing, and I’m a PhD in microchips, and, like, I have no idea what to do. Can you just, like, help me? And so we baked that into the insurance product, and then we translate all of the complexity of the billing in healthcare. And we take that away and we just translate it into copays so that it is a 100% co-pay plan with zero deductible. So, literally, we give people a menu of what all of their out-of-pocket costs are in advance. It’s like going into a grocery store where you can literally see the price of everything in advance. This is ten bucks, this is 20 bucks, this is 50 bucks. This is $2,500, right? Because having surgery or having a baby is not going to cost five bucks, right? No, it might cost $2,500 to get your knee replaced, but at least you would know exactly what you’re out of pocket cost was going to be in advance, and you will never get a bill from a hospital. All you’re going to get is the co-pay bill for the $2,500 from the insurance company, like a credit card bill, and that’s it. And guess what that’s called? That’s called normal. That’s called what every other consumer experience in your life is like, and there’s no reason why healthcare can’t be like that, either.

Martin Cody: And can anybody join you?

Erick Bricker: Got to sign up for it through Blue Cross in Minnesota or other Blue Cross plans. And then we have a similar service that’s on Aetna that’s called Simple Pay. So you can get it on Blue Cross or you can get it on Aetna.

Martin Cody: Interesting. And, of course, who is Aetna owned by?

Erick Bricker: CVS.

Martin Cody: CVS. It’s a very smart business people over there. All right, we’re going to transition over to a very hot and featured segment. These are the speed questions and word association that we remember from our youth. So I’m going to mention a couple terms, and you tell me the first thing that pops into your mind. And it could be Citizen Eric Bricker, Dr. Eric Bricker, co-founder of a company of multiple companies. First thing, payvider.

Erick Bricker: The future.

Martin Cody: Interesting. We talked about this one earlier, but I’ll say it again, No Surprises Act.

Erick Bricker: Meaningless.

Martin Cody: Interesting. Digital front door.

Erick Bricker: Overhyped.

Martin Cody: I would agree with that. And then lastly, the adult beverage conversation. If you could sit down and spend some quality time with someone inside of healthcare, living or deceased, to kind of have some meaningful one-on-one, who would that be, and what are you drinking?

Erick Bricker: Richard T. Burke, the founder of United Healthcare, and coffee, as you can imagine. My favorite beverage.

Martin Cody: Outstanding, it happens to be one of my favorite beverages as well. Dr. Bricker, this has been fascinating. I truly appreciate your kindness, your wisdom, insight, and the patience with which we got this all scheduled. It’s been amazing. I encourage everyone to subscribe to AHealthcareZ as any great gift in life. I promise you, the amount of time you invest in that will be a ten x return in your knowledge. It’s just simply amazing. Very digestible, 8, 10, 12-minute chunks of wisdom that you can watch at any point in time. Is there anything else, Dr. Bricker, that you would like to share with the audience?

Erick Bricker: Martin, thank you for putting together this podcast, and thank you to all your listeners for tuning in.

Martin Cody: Appreciate it. You’re a hard act to follow. Keep producing that content, it’s amazing, and thanks for inspiring. Thanks so much. All right. Cheers. Bye-bye.

Martin Cody: Thanks for diving into the Edge of Healthcare with us today. I hope these insights will fuel your journey in healthcare leadership. For more details, show notes, and ways to stay plugged into the conversation, head over to MadaketHealth.com. Until next time, stay ahead of the curve with the Edge of Healthcare, where lessons from leaders are always within reach. Take care of yourselves, and keep pushing the boundaries of healthcare innovation.

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