A: My major was industrial engineering. I learned I loved tackling a goal and solving it in a systematic way. Upon graduation, I worked seven years as a raw materials engineer for Procter & Gamble in southeast Missouri, in Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi River. I'd visit the labs of our suppliers and qualify, or disqualify, their materials. In '79, we moved back to Norman, where I helped build a new vitamin manufacturing facility for Shaklee Corp. Shaklee moved us to San Francisco, which wasn't our cup of tea, so we left and moved home in '82 or '83. I worked in the computer field and for a medical billing company for three years before starting my own medical billing company, CompOne, with my brother-in-law, my sister's husband, in '87.
Q: How did you conceive the idea for MedEncentive?
A: We self-insured our medical billing company, so it was like Deb and I were writing a check for the health care costs of the some 300 employees we had nationwide. A vast majority were overweight or disabled and demanded some magic pill from their doctors — versus changing their lifestyles. That's when I realized the health care system was fundamentally broken. The root problem was bad behavior — not only on the part of the patient, but also the provider and the payer.
Q: Will Obamacare hurt or help your MedEncentive cause?
A: Some of our concepts are embedded in Obamacare. In 2009, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn arranged for me to meet Zeke Emanuel, the president's health adviser and a physicist/ethicist, in the White House. Emanuel thought our idea was brilliant, but said they couldn't endorse commercial ventures. I wish they could have taken action, gotten it before Medicare/Medicaid, but we're not giving up. Our new executive vice president, Cecily M. Hall, the former employee benefits director for Microsoft Corp., recently sat down with Don Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in Seattle to talk about our product.
Q: I understand MedEncentive has won the endorsements of three reinsurers. Tell us about that.
A: Yes. Sun Life Financial, New York-based AIG and IHC Risk Solutions, three of the country's top 10 reinsurers, now have agreed to offer discounts on stop-loss insurance to self-insured companies who use our online cost-containment product. Stop-loss protection insures companies who offer self-funded health plans against deep losses. This is a big deal. These reinsurers have agreed to put their money where their mouth is. Meanwhile, our larger goal is to integrate into every segment of health plans — not just self-insured health plans, but fully-insured plans and government-sponsored plans.