Chris Byrd, President and CEO at Evolution1 stops by the Finetics™ Studio on the exhibition floor of Money 20/20 to share his thoughts on innovation in the healthcare payments industry with PaymentEye's Sarah Gill.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: I'm joined by Chris Byrd, EVP of Operations at Evolution1. What are the kind of key opportunities that have a model in healthcare payments?
Chris Byrd: Well, in healthcare, I would say in healthcare, prepaid is maturing, or may have matured, even though the market's still growing significantly, because the underlying products that prepaid serves as an access mechanism to are growing very, very fast. So adoption of these account-based products, which is really where the prepaid play is in healthcare, that adoption of those products by employers and employees is continuing to grow at a very fast pace. So even though the card has now become mainstream inside those products, whereas eight to ten years ago, the trick was getting the card inside those plans, now the card's in those plans, but those plans are growing so fast that there's still a very strong embedded growth rate in the product.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: Okay, and who's kind of benefiting from that growth?
Chris Byrd: Who's benefiting from the growth? I think, first and foremost, consumers are benefiting from that growth, because it provides them with a lot more convenient way to access the money. I think the second thing that's often overlooked is that employers are benefiting from the use of prepaid in these benefit plans, because employers are trying to make people really stewards of their own money, make them consumers of their own money, make them aware of what things cost and make them think about making good decisions about how they spend that money on healthcare.
And what a card does is a card enables an active payment and requires an active payment. So if I'm going to use my card to pay my out-of-pocket expenses, then I am hit really flush in the face with what's the cost for that particular healthcare service that I've just encountered. And so what that does is that makes visible something that previously was kind of invisible. Where a lot of those payments were made automatically through insured plans, now people are having to make those payments out of pocket out of their accounts. And so they start to think, "Oh, that really costs that much. Maybe I ought to think twice before I go to the doctor with the sniffles, or maybe I ought to shop around and see if there's a better price for a service."
Sarah Gill, Reporter: Okay, sure. Is this solution, it's very pertinent to the American sort of healthcare system. Does it have applications in other kind of regions?
Chris Byrd: We actually think so. And one of the places that it's actually mainstream is in South Africa. So these kinds of accounts have been around in South Africa probably as long as they've been around here. And South Africa was actually ahead of the US in terms of adoption of card technology to access those accounts. So we were kind of a little bit of a fast follower to South Africa.
We've done some looking overseas, and all of these different countries have unique ways that you might be able to intersect. We think Latin America, there are some really good opportunities down in Latin America. We think in places like Germany, it's a much narrower segment of the population because so many people are covered by government plans and the top 10% have private plans. So it really depends on the country. But we do think it's exportable.
We've already exported it to Canada. Now, you might think Canada, that has a single-payer system, or a 13-payer system, if you think about each province having their own. But government is the predominant payer for healthcare services in Canada. So what's the play for a card there?
Well, the play for a card is that the government doesn't cover everything. There are lots of things that the government plan doesn't cover. And so employers, like they do here, are offering benefit products that give their employees an account and fund that account, and then the employees can use a prepaid card to access that account. And it's been very popular in Canada.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: So there's a lot of innovation happening, definitely. And why is this something that you care about personally? Why is this an industry that you're excited to be a part of?
Chris Byrd: Well, first of all, the reason that I love it is because there is so much innovation, there's so much excitement, there's so much energy. And I think that's--you know, it's easy for that to happen when markets are growing with new applications.
But the other thing that's really exciting is the extent to which we're really simplifying the experience. We're simplifying the experience for health plans and benefit plan administrators--you know, their back office. Because in electronic payment, it's a lot, lot more efficient than a paper claim, where you have to cut a check or issue an EFT.
We're simplifying the process for employers, and we're making the process better for employers, because first and foremost--and I saved the best for last--this is a really good product for consumers. For consumers, it makes it so much more convenient. And happy consumers, happy employees, make for happy employers. Because employers provide employee benefits to their populations, to their employee populations, so that their employees will be motivated and will feel good about where they work. And so anything that makes the employee's life easier in the form of a benefit plan is going to be good for the employer.
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