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Reducing Healthcare Costs with Dr. Jawad Arshad

George Grombacher March 9, 2023

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Reducing Healthcare Costs with Dr. Jawad Arshad

LifeBlood: We talked about reducing healthcare costs, decentralizing the delivery of medical care by bringing the patient together with the provider, and the challenges of disrupting an industry, with Dr. Jawad Arshad, CoFounder and CEO of WoW Health Solutions.   

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Jawad Arshad

Dr. Jawad Arshad

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:01
This is being recorded. Well blood for this George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest starring a powerful Dr. Jawad Arshad. Jawad, are you ready to do this?

Dr. Jawad Arshad 0:12
I am ready to George, let’s do it.

george grombacher 0:14
All right, let’s go to Jawad is an MD. He’s the co founder and CEO of well, health solutions. They’re an organization changing how healthcare is delivered by humanizing it for everyday life. Doctor, tell us a bit about your personal last more about your work, why you do what you do?

Dr. Jawad Arshad 0:32
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m an ER physician by training. You know, I, after residency, I got involved not only in clinical, but administrative medicine started working for a large health system in Southeast Michigan. And after about, Gosh, about 1215 years or so kind of lose track of time, you know, I realized that we were sort of stuck in this rut, and not really being able to address this delivery of care problem that we have. So I left corporate and started a clinic. This was after all these years, my first time that I became a small employer. So I was buying health care benefits for our employees. And I was a provider who was interfacing with our payer system, our insurance system for the first time as well, right, when you’re employed, you know, your employer sort of takes care of all of those things. And neither one of these is an enviable position to be in. So, after a few years, I sold the practice really got focused on how do we better connect the patient, the consumer, to the provider? Right? How can we bring some transparency? How can we unburdened the physician from all of the clerical work on one side, and then provide that consumer experience that we really expect? In every other aspect of our life? Except for healthcare, right? So how do I know when I go see a doctor go get a medication? Go get a lab test, right? How much is that going to cost me? Right. And if I know how much it’s going to cost me, then of course, it helps me make a more informed decision of where to get that episode of care, right. So that’s what we do at Weill health, which is the company that we started with really the goal to connect the patient the consumer directly to the provider of service, whatever that service may be, it may be an office visit, it may be an imaging test, it may be a medication or lab, it may be going seeing a dentist, right? It may be talking to someone via video or audio for a tele counseling session for depression, anxiety, stress related issues, and whatever. The goal is that really regardless of the fields of care that our members are in, they should be able to find those resources and be able to connect with that provider.

george grombacher 3:11
And how’s it going so far?

Unknown Speaker 3:12
You know, it’s, it’s going amazingly well, we, it’s taken us a bit of time, not being from the benefit space, so to speak, which is our main focus, right being, because when we look at statistics, right, we see that about a little more than half of Americans get their health care benefits through their employers. Right. So it became only natural that, you know, we look at that as the market that then needs our services that then we can reach out to, and of course, employers end up getting their benefits through advisors and brokers. Right. So that ended up being another channel for us. So can we provide an alternative solution? Can we provide a better way for our employers to have access to these services? I think the most important thing for us to recognize is that, you know, what we call everyday care, or outpatient care. Anything outside the four walls of a hospital is actually fairly affordable. If you knew how much it would cost and where you could go to get it. You know, 93% of the medications prescribed in the US, if you pay them directly, you know, are going to be less than five bucks a month. An average office with it, depending on the region you live in, will be anywhere between, you know 80 to $150, right. So these things, I don’t necessarily need to have paid a hefty premium for an insurance plan to be able to get those services. You know, that’s statistically again and right, I mean, you know, 90 to 95% of the events in healthcare for under 65 population occurs in this outpatient setting, right? So we said, hey, you know, if we can convince the provider community that this is really the right way for you, to interface with your customer, right with your patient, and unburdened them from having to submit claims and paperwork, you know, then we can really start to have a more robust and honest conversation about what is that right price point for that service. So that sort of I think, so philosophically, some of this is kind of moving the delivery of care back to the consumer and the provider, and then creating that space, so that we can have a better understanding of what that price point and what that relationship needs to look like.

george grombacher 5:58
That makes a ton of sense. So why? I guess it doesn’t really matter why it is that the insurance company is standing in between the patient and the provider, and has been for a really long time, I guess, because there’s money in it. And they they figured out how to deliver this, this this this mousetrap. And so now, the opportunity and challenge is breaking the providers away, because they’re used to getting paid, and they probably structured their businesses with employees and administrative within their own practices. And then we as we as consumers, because half of us are getting this through our employer who offers us health insurance. It’s breaking that habit as well.

Unknown Speaker 6:48
Yeah. And so as you know, with change, right, the biggest problem is Breaking the Habit, even though there is all the logical reason to do it. Right. But it just, I don’t know, you know, it’s sort of the gut feeling that a lot of people have. Right? I think, though, we are sort of ripe for this kind of disruption in a way because, you know, seven years ago, if I told you that you could summon a stranger in their own car, to come and pick you up and take you from point A to point B, it would sound nuts, right? And yet, Exactly, that’s exactly what so many millions of us are doing, not only in the US, but globally. Or, I mean, I think even more than that is that you would leave your home open to a stranger, right? And let them stay in it four to five days a week, right? And then expect that they’re just going to leave and you’ll be able to come back to your home and everything would still be there. Right. So I think I think that this connecting the consumer to the provider of service, whatever that is, maybe a room a home a car service, right? Or, in our case, healthcare. Right? I think that that mindset has started to change our understanding of what well, yeah, maybe healthcare should be the same way. Right? I should know what it’s going to cost me what other providers are charging. So I can really decide who is the best option for me at this moment. So we have you have a bit of you know that that market forces in our favor. You not leave alone, why the insurance companies do what they do, because I think in my opinion, they do exactly what the market allows them to do. And I think that’s really the bottom line for any business right to expect altruistic moves by a business, not a which negatively affect their bottom line. If that’s their specialty thinking.

george grombacher 8:57
We get what we tolerate. Tolerate Every level of life. All right, so you mentioned prescription drugs. And in an office visit, I mentioned those are probably the most common ways that we interact outside of the four walls of a hospital. So the idea is, I need a prescription drug. We just kind of walked me through that process. I am I am the patient, I need a prescription.

Unknown Speaker 9:27
Yeah, so it’s really simple. Right. So what we’ve done is we’ve basically created a couple of membership packages, right? So think of us as almost sort of a discount network discount community that you buy a membership into, right. So for employers, they can start as low as $5 a month and bring access to our providers for in office in person with it for labs, imaging services, procedures, and so on. And then you can kind of build on top of that. So for example, our The most popular package, which is 20 bucks a month, right is going to give you access to that prescription. So for example, when I’m sitting with my doctor, and they say, Hey, you know, George, I’m going to start to on this blood pressure medication, maybe you need an antibiotic, right? Again, remember, 93% of the prescribed medications would be less than $5. I can go on our app, put in the name of the medication, it’s going to tell you exactly how much it’s going to cost. And if it’s something that’s cost prohibitive, in bring it up with your physician, I can tell you as a physician that, you know, we all have sort of our personal prescribing patterns, you know, I mean, I always end up prescribing rollbacks, and as a muscle relaxer, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others. Right. And if you tell me that, hey, you know, this thing is really expensive. Can you think of something else. And so now I need to either tell you why something else is better. Or find one that is within a price range that you’re going to be able to afford, right. And it actually really helps with compliance, right. So our members can go on the app, they can put in the name of the medication, they’ll find out how much it’s going to cost. They even know what local pharmacies they can go to. So we have some large retailers, as well like Walmart, and Sam’s Club and Costco and CVS. So we know that there is a pharmacy near you, including a lot of independence, right, so you can kind of decide which pharmacy to get the prescription sent to you show up at the pharmacy, you have your membership card in your app, show the pharmacist a membership card, they’re going to punch in the numbers, you’re gonna pay whatever it is 234 dollars for that prescription to the pharmacist. And that’s the end of that financial transaction, right, so you’re not getting a bill, you’re not getting anything sent to your home, you know what you’re going to pay at the time of service. So that’s how sort of almost all of our services work in that same manner, right. So if I need to make an appointment with a doctor, I’ll go search for what our specialty maybe I’m looking for, in my geography, I’ll find out hey, you know, I’ve got a, maybe a cardiologist or a dermatologist or a primary care physician who’s X number of miles away, we have over 350,000 medical providers who are confident that we’ll be able to find one near you. And then you call make the appointment, you’d let them know when you’re making the appointment that you are about value point member. And all of these things are sort of written out. For our members, when they are making these calls. They’re all these tooltips, so to speak, within the app and the software. And then you will let them know that you’re going to be a direct pay patient and delta and ask them what tech wizard is going to cost, right. And you’ll find out maybe you know, it’s $120. Now, if that’s acceptable to you, right, then you can go ahead and finalize the appointment. And when you show up at the appointment, you’re expected to pay the full $120. And I think this is really important for us to recognize, because if you had insurance, and if you think back, if you have used your insurance recently, or whatever, in the last six to 12 months, right, you add up your copay, which you pay at the time of visit. And then your deductible and your coinsurance is, which is something usually you’ll get in the mail four to six weeks later, you add up all of those numbers. And you’ll realize that you will usually if not paying the same, you’re actually paying a bit more than when you are in this direct pay arrangement. So then what’s the point of having sort of this murkiness? Right about I don’t really know what the assessor is going to cost, you know? Well, I’m gonna screw up at $40 right now, and then I’ll get a bill in the mail. Right? And you can’t undo it. It’s not like you can say, hey, you know, I can pay this thing. And, you know, and I can just do like going to a restaurant and eating a steak and then getting a bill four weeks later finding out you ate a $500 steak, and you can undo it, you got to pay the restaurant. So, so I think it’s just bringing that visibility, and then letting you decide as a consumer, is this something that you’re willing to move forward? At really a price point that is less than a coffee a week? Right? And great job bringing up that coffee right at that moment?

george grombacher 14:25
That’s perfect timing, for sure. This, this, this makes a ton of sense. And as a culture as a people we are questioning and looking for decentralization and transparency more than everything else, and so many different aspects of life. So I think that this makes a ton of sense. How is it received from from a benefit broker standpoint, and then the actual companies themselves who are who are the employers?

Unknown Speaker 14:54
Yeah, I mean, I think that the benefit brokers are, we have a lot of people partners, a lot of advisors who use us and I mean, they’re they love it, right? Because it gives them an opportunity to bring something to their client that they can’t right now, right? There are, there are I mean, if you think about it, so many people have insurance, but you’re what’s called functionally uninsured, because you got the premium down, right? Maybe you’ve paid some of it, the employer paid some of it, but now you have a deductible of $7,000. So for the first $7,000 worth of care, it’s all coming out of your pocket. Right? And, you know, when we think about healthcare, kind of bankrupting, or as Warren Buffett calls it, right, healthcare is the tapeworm on the American economic system. You know, this is all true, right, because so much of the money gets siphoned off in the trying to get these health care benefits before you’ve actually gotten any health care at all. Right. So I think, so that’s so just gives our advisors a product or service that they can really bring. We have a lot of hospitality companies, a lot of people, for example, who get left out right now, they’re part timers, they’re seasonal workers, even people who do get offered their healthcare benefit, you know, statistically, only about half a little less than half actually take the benefit. What about the other half done? Right? What are they doing? Well, people are deciding that, hey, you know, the monthly premium is the bridge too far. And we’re just not going to be able to afford it, because I’ve got to put food on the table, right. So this gives me an opportunity, instead of something costing $450 a month in premiums, right? I can start at $20 a month, for example. Even if I add an alternative product, like a Health Share, right, which is a limited way to get protection against large medical needs, like hospitalizations, ER visits and so on, you know, maybe I’m still at about 250. Right? So I think so there are different ways how our employers use our services, either it’s to fill that gap or part time for the seasonal workers, or it’s to bring some benefits to those who are declining, the traditional offering that he may be getting, and then for the advisors that really allows them to be able to generate small bit of revenue from really potential clients that they were getting nothing out of. Right. So. So I think it’s a great sort of virtuous cycle in a way, right, it helps the employees it helps the employers and then of course, it does help the clients as well.

george grombacher 17:57
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. I love it. Good work.

Unknown Speaker 18:01
Yeah. Thanks.

george grombacher 18:04
Well, Doctor, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they connect and figure out if Wild Health Solutions is a good fit for their organization?

Unknown Speaker 18:15
Yeah, we encourage everyone to come to our website, it’s really simple. It’s my while and You know, look around, there’s an employer page, if you’re an employer, there’s an advocate page for our advisors. Of course, individuals, you don’t have to be tied to an employer, you can be perhaps a good worker, or an independent contractor or just someone who decides, you know, I’m just interested in looking at this and getting it for myself. Right, you can come to the website and sign up for our plans and packages. Once again, as I said, really inexpensive price points learn more, right? The disc will be able to show you the pricing for a lot of our services, even if you are not a member, right so doesn’t hurt to kind of get to learn and get to learn. And then really make your decision what works best.

george grombacher 19:15
If you enjoyed as much as I did show Jawad, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to my Wow and And check out the great resources for individuals employers benefit advisors. Just figure out if it’s a good fit. Thanks again, doctor.

Unknown Speaker 19:40
Thank you so much, George. Really appreciate the time.

george grombacher 19:42
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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