Managing Benefits for Members All Over the World
Movement 2023: On Air
Kyle Longton, Chief Operating Officer for the American Foreign Service Protective Association (AFSPA), has to think globally every move he makes.
In overseeing the Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP), one of the federal employee health benefits programs offered, he serves approximately 100,000 members in the United States and all over the world—about 200 different countries, to be more specific.
Longton sat down with Jenny Sucov, Hinge Health Director of Content Marketing, at the Movement 2023 conference to talk more about managing benefits for this very geo-diverse workforce, where his attention is focused right now, and more.
View a recording of their conversation below, or read on for some highlights.
Jenny Sucov (JS): Your members are so dispersed. The challenges must be enormous. How do you deal with that?
Kyle Longton (KL): We try to make our benefits as easy to understand and easy to use as possible. For example, for everybody outside the United States, all providers are considered in- network.
We also look for partners who can help us continue to provide services and facilitate benefits anywhere in the world. Can we do home delivery of prescription medications around the globe? Can we offer coaching programs outside the United States?
Those sorts of things make a big difference to our population.
JS: What are some of your strategies for engaging employees all over the world?
KL: So we actually offer a podcast ourselves. And we do live webinars. We also do a lot of email and social media, as well as traditional print newsletters, which get a lot of feedback.
But for the most part, we actually go out, see, and listen to our members. We've got a large population of Department of Defense civilians in places like Germany, Korea, and Japan that we visit. We go visit those in the United Kingdom pretty much every year.
We also maintain a good relationship with the Bureau of Medical Services at the Department of State. They have their own corps of medical professionals, and we hear from them. We listen to what needs they have, and we try to respond.
We also go where they need us to go; for instance, they have a large medevac center for emergency situations in Bangkok.
JS: What's a way you've made managing these members more efficient?
Just in the last year, we concluded three arrangements with different hospitals in Bangkok so that they can charge us directly instead of making the member pay thousands of dollars that we eventually have to reimburse.
This just streamlines things for the members, for the embassy, for everybody involved.
JS: What are some of the benefits AFSPA offers that you're most enthusiastic about and that get good member feedback?
KL: Well, and this is not just because I'm at this conference, but Hinge Health really is #1 for our stateside members. We've been working with our team on an international rollout, which is coming.
We launched Hinge Health in 2021. Since that time, at least once a week, my CEO or I get an email from a member we have never met that says something like, 'Thank you for offering Hinge Health. It has changed my life.' And they'll say, 'You know, I can hike again. I can lift my grandchild. I can go on a run. I've lost weight,' or what have you.
People can do it in their homes. They wouldn't have sought care otherwise, but they thought, 'let me try it out.' And it's working for them. It's accessible.
We can put it in people's hands, get feedback in real time, and offer coaching to go along with it. That personal touch and individualized care are really making a big difference for our members.
JS: Are you planning any big changes to your benefits? What's top-of-mind right now?
KL: We are. We are putting a real focus on fertility. 2023 was the first year we were able to offer any kind of coverage for assisted reproductive technology, and we are working to expand that coverage.
We are also focusing on new options for women's health, perimenopause and menopause in particular. This need was a finding that came out of a Department of State employee survey.
We have been working on getting the Hinge Health Pelvic Health Program out to our members, and we're so excited about that.
JS: When you listen to other benefits leaders here at the conference, do you notice similarities and differences between their experiences and yours?
KL: Yes. Musculoskeletal (MSK) is a leading spend category for so many of us across industries—private, public, wherever. We're all facing that. And it did sort of creep up on us in 2020 in a big way.
Also, the shared need to provide ongoing support and personalized care in a different way. Instead of having to get in the car and go to a doctor, someone can get care remotely from a physical therapist or a health coach.
Fertility and family formation benefits are also leading concerns, as is the need to support employees throughout life (e.g., older age).
JS: Tell me about something you heard at Movement that you'll share with a colleague.
KL: I think Dan Perez (Hinge Health's co-founder and CEO) said that 5% of people drive 85% of MSK costs.
We see something similar in our specialty drugs and have all kinds of programs to manage that. Why don't we take that same approach to MSK?
We've started doing that with Hinge Health. But why don't we step up our game in a lot of ways to look at this? That's one of the big things I'm taking away today.
I was also delighted to hear that when you enroll in Hinge Health now, you can talk about where the pain is coming from. For example, for the wrist program, is it when you're typing or texting? That's amazing.
My sister has been dealing with a shoulder issue for years and says the pain is worse when she reaches to one side. This program would be perfect for her and really address her needs.
She's been through several procedures and has to keep going back because it's not working. So I'm hoping she'll be able to access Hinge Health soon.
I'm looking forward to Movement 2024 already.
These responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.