How a Savings Bank Saves Money on Healthcare: A Conversation with Eve West, SVP HR at Emigrant Bank

About Emigrant Bank:

  • Largest savings bank in NYC
  • Ninth largest privately-owned bank in America
  • Seventh largest bank in Manhattan
  • Founded 1850
  • Assets $5.696 billion (2019)
  • Number of employees: 700

When you’re responsible for every employee at America’s ninth-largest privately-owned bank, that’s a lot of people to keep healthy. Eve West is SVP of HR not only for employees of Emigrant Bank but of the firm’s 30+ subsidiary companies as well. “I really like working for a company where I know most employees’ names and have a relationship with them, even though there are 700 of us. People call me or they call a member of our team. They're very aware of who the team is in HR, and they don’t hesitate to speak their minds. Of course, in the case of Eden Health, it’s all good things!”

Like most HR leaders, Eve’s time is split between day-to-day communications with employees and long-range strategic planning—including spending hours researching quality healthcare that’s affordable and covers all of the needs of Emigrant’s employees.

Nonstop questions, no easy answers.

Making it harder for Eve to find time for healthcare research is the minute-to-minute need to provide employee support regarding coverage and claims.

“We’re constantly educating people because healthcare benefits are so complicated."

"We have an employee who has Emigrant Bank benefits and has also got Medicare. So we basically have to sit down with his admin and walk her through how to process those claims. Or we do them—we do our best to help people through this stuff."

“After compensation, I would say the second biggest drain on our department’s time is benefits—onboarding people, and then taking them through leaves of absence, or open enrollment, or all of the educational process that goes along with administering benefits. It's a huge drain.”

Another strain for HR directors like Eve is simply finding answers related to healthcare concerns. “I have high-level problems dealing with employee medical issues. Recently a team member couldn’t come to work because he was having issues with medication management. As the HR director, I need to call somebody in the medical field and get advice. But who am I supposed to call?”

Better care, right away.

In Eve’s case, she didn’t have to go looking for a solution; it found her.

“I didn't even know I needed Eden Health. Upper management presented Eden to me as a care option. When I heard about their offerings, I thought it was a good idea and something worth trying.”


Telemedicine diagnosis

First and foremost, good care should be easy for a patient to access, and Emigrant Bank’s employees agree. More than any other aspect of Eden Health, they love the telemedicine option, says Eve. “I think that's why Eden’s getting some of the great comments. People feel like, ‘I'm sick. I don't want to go out to the doctor.’ You get on the Eden app, you describe the symptoms, and they just give you the medicine rather than make you come into the office. Eden is not afraid of doing their practice over the app. We think that’s a fearless position, which is pretty great.”

Eden also facilitates in-person visits via easy online appointments and convenient workplace pop-ups. “If you're not feeling good, you can get in today to see that doctor. You just go onto the app and book an appointment. Real simple. I think our people like that. We also do the pop-ups in the office four times a year, and we bring Eden in for flu shots. After we announce the pop-ups, all the appointments are filled within a day or two. The response has been great.”

Eden’s integrated 360 care model incorporates both medical health and behavioral health, which Eve approves of. “I encourage employees to take care of their mental health at the same rate as they take care of their physical health. I like the fact that Eden integrates both into the experience. When people meet with an Eden clinician, in person or on the app, they get asked a series of questions about how they’re feeling. If it’s appropriate, the clinician refers the patient to an Eden behavioral-health specialist.”

During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, Eden’s easy access and ready answers have also proved to be invaluable. “When I’m sending out emails to everybody about how to take care of yourself during the outbreak, I'm also saying, you have a 24-hour app and the ability to call somebody immediately from your home.”

Saving money, saving time.

Eve needed a health provider that could deliver not only great care but reduce expenses as well: “I was very hopeful that having Eden would reduce our health insurance costs.” Eve’s comment underscores an important point: a care provider’s true cost shows up not only as a line-item expense but also through increased health insurance premiums based on claims filed.

In terms of costs, Eve has been happy with Eden’s results.

“I believe [Eden Health] made a difference. Normally our health insurance costs go up 2-6% a year. And the increase didn't happen in January of this year—zero increase, which is unheard of.”

Pulling out a calculator, Eve estimates that Eden saved Emigrant Bank over $300K last year by keeping insurance costs flat. “The fact that we saved that this year with no increase, that was the first hint that what we're doing is actually impacting the way our people use health insurance.”

Eden Health Insurance Navigators

As well as money, Eden has also saved Eve’s time. Eden’s insurance navigators—dedicated consultants to answer employee questions—now manage a range of duties that formerly fell to Eve West and her HR team. “Eden manages some of the small tasks so we can spend our time on other things. They're doing claims adjudication for us when people have problems with their billing. They're being very helpful with that, and it’s a huge savings of time.

“People see me in the hallway and want to ask about a bill that they got, or want to know whether or not something will be covered by health insurance. I say, ‘do you have the app on your phone?’ They pull it up. I say, ‘type that in right now.’ And they get an answer within five minutes. So, teaching them to go to the Eden app instead of me has been helpful.”

A boon to HR.

Overall, the Eden experience has been positive for Eve. “The way they select their doctors and their customer service skills really stands out to me. I know that their customer service is in line with the way I see it. I had an issue with the way things were handled in one instance, and the response was immediate. They came in like a SWAT team, asking what my issue was and doing whatever it took to fix it. So that's one of the things I really like.”

Overall, the feedback from Emigrant employees has been positive as well. “People really smile when they hear the name. Every experience with Eden Health has been a good one. I don't think there's anyone that has complained about them or had a bad time— when you bring it up, it's all good stories. Employees feel confident and comfortable with the service, so we have a pretty good usage rate—once a person experiences something good, they go back. That's what makes Eden health different.”

In addition to providing care and guidance to Emigrant employees, Eden fulfills an unexpected role for Eve: that of a trusted advisor and consultant.

“The reason why I love Eden Health so much is that they’re like a business partner that I didn't know I needed, but I need very much."

"So whenever something comes up that's medical related, I have a partner that I can call that I never had before. If I want to find out how long does it take for a doctor to be able to regulate somebody's medication and get them back to work. I can ask and get that information. So that's very helpful to me.”

At Eden Health, Julie Pliskin is Emigrant Bank’s dedicated point of contact. “Julie is my contact to the world. When I have questions or need assistance, I’ve just been calling Julie. She finds the answer for me.” Eve is pleased to find a medical provider like Eden that she can also use as a knowledge resource on important issues. “In my back pocket, I have an attorney. I have someone who can advise me on best practices in my industry. What I haven’t had up ‘til now is someone on the medical side, and that's why I love Eden Health.”

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