This Female-Run Michigan Company Is Helping To Make Healthcare Payments Affordable

Jeryl Brunner

It’s never too late to become an entrepreneur.

Amy O’Meara Chambers, who received her J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1996, waited 20 years to launch her own company. She and her co-founder started HealthBridge, an insurance technology company, with a mission to reimagine the way we pay our healthcare bills.

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Amy O'Meara ChambersCourtesy HealthBridge

Startups like HealthBridge are leading the quest to help make healthcare payments more affordable for all. In a world gripped by a pandemic, every little bit of help can alleviate the financial burden on doctors and patients alike.

After beginning her career designing health plans with high deductibles, Chambers is devoted to helping people discover how to pay for them. She and her company’s co-founder hope to be pioneers in this mission.

Chambers describes HealthBridge as a first-of-its-kind benefit solution and technology platform that gives patients a revolutionary way to manage and pay for their out-of-pocket expenses ― things like co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles. HealthBridge creates something a health plan alone can’t: financial security. It doesn’t replace a patient’s employer-sponsored health plan, individual health plan, or Medicare Advantage plan. Rather, it works alongside these benefits.

How does it work? When a patient receives medical treatments covered by their health plan from a HealthBridge Network Provider, HealthBridge immediately pays the provider what the member owes. Then HealthBridge creates a consolidated, concierge-like experience with the best, most affordable repayment terms in the industry. (Think: 24 months at 0 percent interest).

According to Chambers, this has immediate, positive consequences for the patient and their provider. The provider gets paid immediately for their services, and when patients don’t have to worry about medical bills, they gain the confidence to seek care when it’s needed. Their medical bills are consolidated into a single monthly installment plan ― like a credit card without the added interest.

A popular buzzword in the Human Resources community is “financial wellness.” Too often, this merely means educating employees/patients on how to save enough money to cover their medical expenses. HealthBridge takes a more practical approach. As Chambers explains, it goes to the very heart of a patient’s financial distress, creating a financial security tool that allows individuals to look out for themselves fiscally as well as physically.

An original investigation by the Journal of the American Medical Association recently uncovered this statistic: Healthcare has become the country’s largest source of debt in collections, totaling approximately $140 billion. In a challenging time for the entire system, creative financial solutions like HealthBridge can be very important.

Chambers says HealthBridge will branch out of its home state of Michigan in the coming year to work with providers, insurance companies, and employer groups in more than a half-dozen new states. She predicts “exponential” membership growth, putting HealthBridge on track to become one of the fastest-growing benefits in the United States.

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

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