MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The first health plan company in the United States to create an industry-defining preferred provider organization (PPO) is about to break new ground again in a move that signals a new era of investment, innovation and growth. Founded in 1982, Minneapolis-based HealthEZ announced this week the appointment of technology entrepreneur, healthcare strategist, and proven business builder Jeff Bakke to the role of chief executive officer. Bakke joins HealthEZ from consumer-driven health and employee benefits leader WEX Health, which he led from a start-up to nearly $500 million in revenue.
The move comes as part of a next-era strategic plan for the high-growth company that will lead to further investment in products and services, including additional senior hires in 2022 and beyond. Bakke assumes the leadership reins in a watershed 40th-anniversary year for HealthEZ that also sees visionary founder Nazie Eftekhari become Executive Chairwoman for the 100-employee-strong business.
Eftekhari founded the Araz Group in 1982, creating the country’s first-ever PPO that changed the health insurance landscape in the United States. Then in 1999, she launched HealthEZ, with a self-imposed mandate to make the increasingly complex world of health insurance efficient and simple for providers, employers and patients. In her new role as Executive Chairwoman, Eftekhari will focus on building strategic partnerships across the healthcare and health insurance landscapes, while Bakke will lead new initiatives that drive HealthEZ’s product distribution and expansion nationwide.
“We knew right away that Jeff is the ideal leadership addition at this defining moment in our evolution,” said Eftekhari. “He brings the perfect mix of career wins and personal vision to steer HealthEZ through the next phase of our growth. Beyond his well-documented business achievements, his acumen and his successful track record in building a brand and organization like WEX Health, Jeff is intellectually and passionately inquisitive—essential qualities in our culture. He shares our commitment to reimagine health insurance and is already proving incredibly popular with our employees and business partners.”
An industry-innovator and infrastructure-builder, HealthEZ’s four-decade reputation for excellence is built on prioritizing the patient first and providing a direct communication to provider networks—and it is as unique as it is impressive. A company wide goal aims to process 99 percent of all claims within one day, thanks to HealthEZ’s 360-degree approach and proven technology that helps advocate for patient needs, meet provider needs and helps employers build the most effective and personally tailored plans for their employees.
The approach is working. Since 2010 HealthEZ has grown between 30 and 50 percent year-on-year thanks, in part, to a customer-centric vision and continued innovation that includes the recent launch of HealthEZ Mobile. Launched earlier this year, HealthEZ Mobile brings HealthEZ’s signature payment solution, EZ Pay, directly to the employee’s mobile device. EZPay is designed to make understanding medical bills simple and easy for all plan members. The service automatically receives, checks for accuracy and collates all of a patient’s medical bills into one easy-to-understand bill, viewable anywhere. Patients can set up auto pay from the app or elect to receive a payment for review and approval. EZ Pay works seamlessly with debit cards, credit cards, HSAs, HPAs and Flex accounts. Patients can also access 24/7 support and quickly find a provider for a medical need.
“The entire process of finding, receiving and especially paying for care in the U.S. has become increasingly complex and confusing for patients,” said Jeff Bakke, chief executive officer, HealthEZ. “We’re committed to making that process much simpler and more streamlined and efficient for everyone, from provider to employees to employers, who carry the health insurance plans for their workforces.
“I started out on this journey more than 15 years ago, working with and educating employers and their employees about the benefits of right-sizing coverage in consumer-driven plans. There’s still a long way to go in this industry but I truly believe HealthEZ is at the forefront of a movement to do just that and I’m excited to continue the mission with that momentum.”
Prior to HealthEZ, Bakke was Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at WEX Health, the consumer-driven health and benefits solutions provider that helps 400,000 employers and more than 33 million consumers plan, decide, save and pay for healthcare and benefits. He has held other key leadership positions at SafeNet Consulting, Allianz Life, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, and provided consulting services to American Express, Medica Health Plans, Heartland Health Systems and United Healthcare. Bakke has become a leading voice in the healthcare and financial services industries, drawing on decades of experience overseeing corporate strategy, distribution strategy, product innovation, and strategic partnerships for some of the industry’s highest performing companies. He is a sought-after speaker and contributor to industry panels, events and for media commentary.
“HealthEZ is a company that still retains an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to effect change and that’s exciting to me,” added Bakke. “There’s an integral drive for true innovation as well as an enormous untapped opportunity and appetite for making a meaningful impact for patients, providers and employers, all while keeping a focus on business growth.
For more information visit www.healthez.com.
Based in Bloomington, Minnesota, HealthEZ is a national independent third-party administrator of employer-sponsored, self-funded medical plans and America’s PPO, the nation’s first preferred provider organization. On a mission to make health insurance easy to understand and more efficient from provider to patient and the employers who fund their plans, HealthEZ launched EZ Pay, the nation’s first consumer medical “tap & pay” app making bills easier to understand and simpler to pay. The company partners with employers throughout the United States to deliver better access to healthcare for their employees while ensuring value and improving outcomes. More information about HealthEZ can be found at www.healthez.com.