Carl Schuessler, founder and managing principal of Mitigate Partners, cannot hide his passion about saving people money on healthcare costs. Mitigate Partners, LLC is a Risk Management, Cost Containment, and Employee Benefits Consulting group made up of a partnership between 29 employee benefit consulting and brokerage firms. Born and raised in Georgia to a stay-at-home mother and OBGYN father, Schuessler had exposure to the healthcare space at a young age. He attended the University of Georgia, what he calls “the Harvard of the South,” and started in pre-med before soon realizing that the sciences were not for him.
Schuessler’s life changed in February 2013 after reading the 2013 Time magazine article, “The Bitter Pill,” a long form piece about the arbitrary reasons America’s healthcare costs are so much higher than the rest of the world’s, and what those costs are doing to working families. The article was later expounded upon to become a bestselling book. At the time, Schuessler was working in the insurance space, and he says, “I read the Time magazine article and I was so frustrated with having to constantly deliver bad news to our clients about rates, insurance premiums going up and up and up, making the benefits worse and worse every year, you know, pay more get less. And I started to read that and went, ‘wow, you know, there is something behind these curtains that a lot of people don’t know about.’”
After that, he decided to start Mitigate Partners, LLC. The firm built the FairCo$t Health Plan, which customizes corporate health plans to mitigate unnecessary costs. Schuessler says that the big insurance companies build healthcare plans with many misaligned interests for their benefit rather than working with employers to build plans tailored to their needs and their employees’ needs. “We eliminate the middlemen,” says Schuessler. Mitigate Partners has a relationship with Health Rosetta, a collaboration and open-source blueprint for better health benefits that seeks to save costs for employers. Schuessler states, “This is all about basically helping our clients be better fiduciaries and stewards of their money, and building a health plan that is centered around the patient. Right now the patient is not in the center of the healthcare system, and that’s the problem.”
Schuessler is incredulous about the fact that healthcare is the only industry that expects people to pay without knowing the costs up front. He asks, “What if we bought groceries the way we buy healthcare?” You have to wait 30 days for a bill to find out what the encounter cost, and it could be anywhere from $500 – $100,000. Mitigate Partners’ FairCo$t Health Plan offers costs up front, but requires patients to call a cost and quality partner to understand which doctors have the best outcomes. Patients do not have public access to information about the mortality or adverse outcome rates of procedures performed by certain doctors; Mitigate does, and they pass that information on to patients to ensure higher quality of care.
Case studies have shown mind-boggling cost savings. Mitigate Partners has saved employer groups, like DeSoto Memorial Hospital, over a million dollars per year by negotiating up-front cash prices for procedures. Employers often account for yearly premium increases that are passed onto their employees, and many have reported that after working with Mitigate Partners, which engages in direct employer contracting, they have finally saved money on healthcare.
Healthcare costs vary widely, and because consumers do not know the standard costs for procedures, or understand the complicated codes on their hospital bills, they do not know how to question whether certain procedures or tests are necessary. Schuessler says that the insurance companies are doing what they are supposed to be doing—answering to shareholders—but that is not in the best interest of patients and employers, who are often left with complicated, exorbitantly high bills.
Schuessler says, “Healthcare isn’t broken. It was made this way intentionally… We just want to bring meaningful change in employee benefits, predominately towards health insurance, and improve people’s lives.”