Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Navigating health insurance in 2021!

breast cancer awareness month

For many, each Fall represents a new challenge – the effort to find adequate, affordable health insurance and other voluntary benefits! Background anxiety and worry seem ever present. It’s part of the “what if” that keeps us awake at night.

Finding health insurance is a real challenge. The cost to families for health coverage and healthcare has risen more than two times faster than wages and three times faster than inflation over the last decade. With statistics such as these, Americans are relying more and more on their employer for their basic healthcare needs.

Jacque Neat is an Employee Benefits Specialist in Overland Park, Kansas, and the founder of Indigo Partners ( Jacque has worked in the insurance industry for more than 15 years in Kansas, Missouri, and the broader Midwest and has seen the changes firsthand throughout the past two decades. Prior to her work in benefits consulting, Jacque spent eight years in the dental industry gaining experience in the healthcare claims arena. This knowledge and experience continue to serve her well as she supports her clients today.

Jacque’s natural curiosity along with her own personal health journey led her to an active, ongoing advocacy in the marketplace that supports employers as well as their most valuable asset – people.

“January 2019 feels like a decade ago,” she says. Early that year, Jacque was diagnosed with the BRCA2 gene mutation. The diagnosis brought Jacque’s professional knowledge to a very real, personal level in her efforts to access healthcare, manage her health, and understand her range of treatment options and specialists, while using her healthcare benefits appropriately. With numerous procedures, surgeries, and ongoing medical visits, Jacque understands not only the physical toll that a medical diagnosis takes on one’s life, but also the financial and emotional stress that a person carries with them through the health system.

“To think about it is just exhausting,” laughs Jacque. “Yet, the most amazing part of that journey was the outpouring of support.” With three school-aged children, meals and transportation to and from school and activities from friends, family, and coworkers were greatly appreciated. But, Jacque has been forever changed by the experience. Even with the best benefit packages, there are so many aspects of an extended health condition or illness that create day-to-day challenges.

“I was very fortunate, and I know it. I have a benefit plan that supported me well. I had a community of friends, family, and co-workers that took an active interest to help with many aspects of life. For many out there, the health plans and financial concerns of being ill are an enormous challenge.” Jacque’s heart goes out to others in the same situations.

“Can you imagine being someone alone in our health system? As a single parent with small kids or an elderly person without family? Or, with limited access to insurance and other resources? It’s just overwhelming for me to think about,” says Jacque.

The experience really activated Jacque’s interest in providing even more for her clients. And, for those employers that aren’t sure if they can afford to offer a benefit plan to their employees, Jacque is committed to finding a way. “This is what community is all about… we have to figure things out together! Many business owners have never offered benefits and do not know where to begin. I enjoy working with them to build a benefits package that fits within their budget while offering plans and programs that will truly help their people manage the expense and the complexity of healthcare and insurance.”

After her own recent health experience, Jacque went to work and began curating partnerships with like-minded colleagues. The efforts have resulted in a number of relationships with major medical to other low-cost, voluntary benefits, such as Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Health, Wellness Programs, and Patient Advocacy.

Passionate about health and wellness, Jacque prides herself on being a resource. “We spend a lot of time selecting the right insurance plans with owners and human resources managers, but we have to take it a step further and really educate our members. We organize employee health and wellness meetings so the employees understand their benefits and see the value in the package their employer has selected. They need to know their employer cares about their health and wellness. I want their people to meet me in person and to know that I care about them, too.”

“There are options, but you have to find a resource that is willing to share them.” Jacque smiles as she says, “This is just the start… I hope others will share my enthusiasm.”

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