Drew Leatherberry: Transforming Benefit Plans for Wisconsin Employers
Over the course of his career, Drew Leatherberry has done some incredible things for employers in Wisconsin. As an employee benefits advisor for over a decade, Drew utilizes innovative approaches to managing healthcare costs. He is more than a broker; he is a true consultant. Drew provides guidance for his clients, leading them to the best solutions for their employee benefits plans.
Drew is the founder and president of Avergent, a Wisconsin-based benefits advisement firm serving employers since 2019. As a certified Health Rosetta Associate Advisor, he leverages proven best practices from across the country to make healthcare affordable for plan members. He has been recognized regionally and nationally as a voice for transformation in the healthcare benefits industry.
Drew Leatherberry was presented with a Healthcare Transformation Award at The Alliance’s 2023 Fall Symposium and Annual Meeting for his dedication to finding the best solutions for his clients and their employees.
Breaking the Status Quo
In response to years of increasing deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, Drew began seeking alternative ways to design health benefit plans for his clients. Drew says, “When I heard what healthcare costs have done to people, I took a look in the mirror. I knew as an individual guiding and leading organizations through the benefits process, I couldn’t keep doing things the same way, getting terrible results.”
Drew began looking for better solutions to deliver affordable health plans, guide plan participants to the right care, and avoid some of the unfortunate outcomes that happen in the healthcare system. To do this, he knew he needed to diverge from the established norms in the benefits industry.
The status quo for insurance brokers is closely related to value alignment. While most insurance brokers believe they are working for their clients, in reality, they are serving the insurance carrier market. Healthcare is the second or third-highest expense for employers after labor. Drew says, “If you want to change healthcare in America, you have to go where the money is.” Challenging the status quo means asking uncomfortable questions. It means potentially moving away from established relationships, and going against organizations that are financially incentivized to keep things the way they are.
Employers must explore self-funding to truly manage their healthcare costs and offer robust benefits to their employees. And to self-fund successfully, employers need to be educated. Drew thinks of this education process in three steps: educate, empower, and equip. He educates his clients and their plan members about what is possible, empowers and inspires them about the benefits of doing things differently, and equips them with the tools they need to be successful.
Self-funded plans allow Drew and his team to access many different components of data, from claims and provider pricing data to case management utilization. Drew uses multiple data sources to forecast expenses and risks to guide both the employer and the plan members toward the best outcome.
Designing Better Benefit Plans
Today, Drew and his team at Avergent deliver innovative, proactive strategies that create meaningful results. He helps his clients create tiered benefit plans that prioritize preferred-value providers. This encourages plan participants to seek care where the cost is low, and the quality is good. Drew also helps his clients guide their employees toward utilizing high-value healthcare through incentives like $0 copays and cash rewards. In fact, most of Drew’s clients do not have deductibles. By helping his clients guide their employees to high-value care, his clients and their employees and families save money.
Enabling educated decision-making is at the core of Drew’s benefit plan design strategy. He said, “Employers need to know how the pieces of a benefit plan fit together and how benefit plan partners help them manage the health risks present in their employee populations.” By knowing what health issues their employee population may face, employers can help their employees become better health consumers by giving them the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions for their health while reducing the financial barriers to care.
Creating Care Navigation
Often there is no one advocating for the patient and helping them navigate their benefits and care journey. So, Drew created a clinical care navigation solution, Collaborate Care, to help plan members better navigate the healthcare system. This care navigation program includes a dedicated nurse-led care concierge team focused on guiding a patient’s non-emergent specialty care. Collaborate Care connects plan participants with a care team and medical and pharmacy solutions. This ensures they are well-informed of their clinical options. The team helps plan participants schedule diagnostic and treatment procedures, get necessary supplies, and reduce out-of-pocket expenses whenever possible.
Through Collaborative Care, Drew’s clients saw an over 7:1 ROI in 2022 with an average plan claim savings of 17.5%. This program has saved Drew’s clients millions in claims while providing support and guidance to employees navigating specialty care. Patients’ lives have been saved by effectively getting them the right diagnosis and treatment plan.
Changing Healthcare Delivery
Drew knows the importance of working with benefit partners who focus on helping plan participants take care of themselves. He works to find the best independent partners who have employers’ and employees’ best interests at heart. In doing this, Drew improved healthcare for a significant market in central Wisconsin that was previously beholden to large insurance carriers.
Specifically, Drew’s advocacy for direct primary care helped The Alliance build relationships with even more independent physicians. He also worked with us to bring independent infusion centers into our networks. This provides additional opportunities for employees to reduce their out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Drew remains dedicated to improving benefit plans for his Wisconsin employers. He continues working to ensure Avergent is “one more springboard in the market getting behind what transformative health plans can do for the plan members.”
If you were unable to attend the 2023 Fall Symposium and Annual Meeting or want to view the Healthcare Transformation Award ceremony again, you can register to watch a live webcast of the event.