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Meet Sandy Schumacher, on-site benefits advocate
Making it easier for employees to navigate the complexities of their health benefits is Sandy Schumacher’s job—and it’s what motivates her. Schumacher is an on-site benefits advocate at one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers. She works with approximately 2,400 employees at four different sites (two manufacturing, two engineering), in Greenville County, South Carolina. “We’re helpers, innately,” says Schumacher, describing herself and her seven teammates. “When we can help take the weight off of someone’s shoulders by resolving an issue, to see the relief on their face, that motivates me,” Schumacher explains.
Schumacher’s previous experience working in provider services at a major health insurance company, where she worked directly with doctors and hospitals, gave her a unique understanding of claims processing. She realized then that she wanted to use that experience to help employees understand their health benefits. “My role is essentially a subject matter expert when it comes to all things related to medical, behavioral, prescription drug and dental insurance,” Schumacher explains.
When she started in her role, Schumacher worked to promote the program, creating an awareness campaign. “We wanted to get the word out of what our services offer, where we’re located and how we can help,” Schumacher explains. “It was fun, we used the classic Peanuts ‘The doctor is in’ cut out, but instead titled it ‘the Benefits Zone, the benefits advocate is in’ and used a picture of me.” From the campaign, traffic increased 40 percent in just two months.
To make sure every employee understands the program, Schumacher and teammates participate in new employee orientations to offer an overview of services. To reach their benefits advocate, employees can use a dedicated phone line that connects them directly to their specific advocate. Walk-ins are also typical, as is email.
Making a difference
Schumacher is thankful to be in a position where she can make a difference. With one case, she helped save an employee and the company $2,000. “The financial savings are important, but saving an employee’s time, which allows them to focus on their work, is very important as well,” Schumacher says.
In another case, an employee’s wife was going through various diagnostic testing and claims were not processing correctly. Prior authorizations were denied as well. Schumacher was able to resolve the issues and was happy to do so. “I know what I do would take the average person much longer, causing more stress and frustration,” she explains. “Freeing them of that stress and worry and hopefully contributing to a much better work-life balance is a great gift to be able to give someone,” she says.
Schumacher and her teammates were challenged with several issues when the company changed pharmacy providers. In one particular case, an employee whose child was on anti-rejection medication due to a transplant sought help from Schumacher. “There were a few issues to work through, but I was so happy everything was resolved without a disruption in service,” Schumacher says.
“Most often, members have no idea of the amount of back and forth it takes to get a resolution, and that’s exactly how it should be if we’re doing our jobs,” Schumacher explains. “I’m in a position to help people, to help make things better for them, and I love that.”
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