How the Commonwealth of Kentucky identified Rethink Benefits as a solution to support parents and caregivers.

As the rate of diagnosis of developmental disabilities in children has risen over the past two decades, many employers are finding that their employees who are parents struggle to find the resources they need to help their children with behavioral issues. A provider shortage exists everywhere, as there is only one Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) for every 500 children diagnosed in some parts of the U.S., and only one for every 15,000 children diagnosed globally.

Rethink Benefits connects parents and caregivers with these trained clinicians through its digital support platform, available 24/7 no matter where an employee is located. More than 200 Fortune 1000 companies and numerous state and local governments have turned to Rethink’s digital solution to step outside the health plan and fill resource gaps that can help their employees be happier and more productive at home and at work.

Sharron Burton, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Employee Insurance, Personnel Cabinet for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, talks with Mike Civello, Senior Vice President of Rethink Benefits, about why the Commonwealth added Rethink as an employee benefit, and how that process worked.

Why did the Commonwealth of Kentucky explore caregiver support for children with developmental disabilities?
Sharron Burton: Our members have had to endure increases in premiums, deductibles and coinsurance, and sometimes even reductions in benefits. In an effort to give back, we were looking for a cost-effective benefit to provide employees. We reached out to our plan’s actuarial consultants and they introduced us to Rethink.

Rethink seemed like an answer to the shortage of board certified behavior analysts in the state. We think Rethink is a unique program that fills gaps between the health plan coverage and the Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs).

How does Rethink Benefits differ from an EAP?
Mike Civello: An EAP provides mental health counseling to employees for their own mental health, whereas Rethink provides resources to the employee as a caregiver. They have different functions, but we have found that Rethink’s clinicians can help employees connect with the critical mental health resources available through the EAPs, should they demonstrate a need for those services. Rethink integrates well with most EAP offerings.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to access resources and board certified behavior analysts remotely has become even more critical. It’s important to note that the information shared with Rethink is confidential.

Why did Kentucky decide to offer Rethink Benefits to their entire population, including retirees?
Sharron Burton: We are seeing trends where grandparents more and more are becoming the caregivers of their grandchildren, resulting in the need for the types of caregiving resources that are available through Rethink among our retirees. Throughout our workforce, we recognize that employees like to seek help in different ways. We found that with the stigma attached to behavioral health, many folks facing those issues, including caregivers of children with behavioral health issues, prefer to access those services online. We love that Rethink is a benefit that can be accessed by employees no matter their geographic location within the state of Kentucky.

How did you successfully implement Rethink?
Sharron Burton: We were able to contract with Rethink as a sole-source provider since there was not another entity in the market that was providing the same services. This allowed us to bypass the typical government procurement process, which made securing Rethink as a vendor for the Commonwealth relatively easy and just a matter of putting a contract together. Implementation was seamless. Rethink does not require an eligibility file, so there was no need for us to transmit protected health information from the health plan to Rethink. We were able to agree upon a static employee number for calculating the total monthly charge, which eliminated the need for us to run employee numbers every month. I can safely say that Rethink Benefits was the easiest vendor implementation I have ever been a part of.

How do you evaluate ROI?
Mike Civello: The ROI question with Rethink Benefits is very different from how it’s viewed within traditional health plan and other benefits offerings. Rethink is not a cost-savings program, but it is an incredibly cost-effective way to close gaps within the existing health and benefits ecosystem. Because Rethink’s programming does not require a diagnosis or eligibility file, these resources are available to help all employees, and when employees take advantage of these resources, they are happier, more productive and less likely to leave their jobs. These don’t fit into any ROI calculator, but they are results we believe makes Rethink an excellent return on investment.

What’s the value you’ve seen since launching?
Sharron Burton: Rethink is an additional investment of our health plan for our members who are caregivers of children, but anyone can use it. The benefit occurs when members take advantage of what Rethink has to offer. Members get access to valuable tools to assist with issues they may face as a caregiver of a child with developmental disabilities. They get creative solutions. We often struggle with getting members engaged with our plan’s free and low-cost benefits, and to that end, Rethink offers a wonderful array of communications to help us spread the word, including e-mails and flyers and social media content. We’ve been able to get some traction based on those communications.

Teachers and parents have been able to leverage Rethink during the COVID-19 pandemic as a supplement to resources available in the school system. Rethink provides referrals and works within the ecosystem of our benefit structure. Rethink offers caregivers struggling with worry, fear, absenteeism and fatigue with a resource that can help.

Rethink success in Kentucky
Click here to read about Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan member Melissa Hutchins’ experience working with Rethink to support her family.