Features

Sarah Bimber – Amino Health

A GC’s surgical precision on contracts leads to healthy employees

Like many Americans, David Vivero was once denied health insurance due to a genetic condition. While he eventually found coverage with the Affordable Care Act, the drawn-out experience left him frustrated and wanting to help.

In 2013, Vivero launched Amino Health, which built an app based on data from health insurance claims. This app allows patients to find experienced, cost-effective doctors in their health plan networks with much less hassle.

Sarah Bimber | General Counsel | Amino Health

Sarah Bimber | General Counsel | Amino Health

By the time Sarah Bimber became the company’s privacy officer and senior counsel in July 2019, Amino Health had geared the app towards employers, third-party administrators, brokers and other health plan providers who could then offer the platform to employees. The app was still meant to help individuals, Bimber says, but now could reach more patients through third parties.

This move was also beneficial to these third parties, allowing them to select coverage based on their needs. As Bimber explains, a tree logging company in Wisconsin would want different coverage than a retail shop in Florida, for example. Nevertheless, neither wants to pay coverage employees don’t need.

“A major part of my responsibilities is drafting and handling the bespoke contracts necessary to establish—and strengthen—these partnerships,” says Bimber, who was promoted to general counsel in November 2020.

Inking a healthy future 

Amino Health’s clients range from Hitachi to the makers of POM Wonderful, Fiji Water and The Wonderful Company. Amino Health also works with government entities, such as the County of Santa Barbara, California.

According to Bimber, Amino Health is flexible depending on the client and the needs of its employees. For instance, it can create a plan that includes certain benefits, such as Telehealth or diabetes management. She adds that it’s not always about changing plan structure, but helping members navigate the existing complexity within current health plan designs.

Emily Cooper, the benefits manager for Boulder County in Colorado, says that Amino Health helped the county reduce healthcare premium costs, leading to an increase in recruiting and retainment.

“On average, we’re saving our clients $1,400 per appointment,” Bimber says. “That’s because we’re doing the work of going through and understanding where they’re overpaying or where they have coverage they don’t need—like, a bar paying insurance for minors when it only hires people over the age of 21.”

Turning pages into clicks

Amino Health is also helping companies comply with federal health transparency requirements.

As Bimber explains, a new online tool in the app will allow patients to compare the cost of procedures at different providers. That means patients can, for example, find the dentist offering the cheapest x-ray or root canal. She adds that Amino Health is at the forefront of making such a tool available, as the data to provide such estimates is becoming public for the first time.

“Neither I nor others at Amino Health want any individual to struggle like our founder once did,” she says.

Sarah Bimber | General Counsel | Amino Health

Bimber says she and others at Amino Health were involved with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Transparency in Coverage regulatory process from the beginning. In fact, Bimber submitted comments in 2019 on HHS’ Hospital Transparency rules and in 2020 on its parallel Transparency in Coverage rules.

After HHS issued the rules, Amino Health also engaged the former deputy secretary of HHS, Eric Hargan, and the former Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance at CMS, Randy Pate. Bimber explains that this ensured the company was compliant.

“This was also a way to advocate for Amino Health’s interest more broadly in the industry as our platform could be a way for many to stay compliant with these new HHS regulations,” Bimber explains.

A team prescription for career growth

Fittingly, Bimber has also recently taken over the leadership of the human resources department. While she works closely with external counsel and colleagues to manage the growing workload, she is looking to expand her team and plans to hire a paralegal and compliance manager.

“I remain the only in-house attorney, and while I love my work, I’d like to focus more of my time on strategic and broader initiatives,” she says.

As such, she’s further developing administrative and contracting processes, so other groups can be more self-sufficient. She adds that the new hires should help become a bridge between the two.

Bimber is also something of a bridge herself. Not only did she graduate from Kalamazoo College with a bachelor’s in health sciences and business but she was also an inaugural member of University of Wisconsin’s dual degree program, meaning she received a master’s from its School of Medicine and Public while simultaneously graduating cum laude from its School of Law.

Her first job in 2005 was as an application manager for the electronic health records software company, Epic. She’s worked in the health industry since then, holding positions with Project HealthDesign and University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

Her passion comes partly from her desire to become a doctor. When an undergraduate organic chemistry class showed her that science was not her forte, she didn’t give up her dream to have a career in medicine.

“I love working for Amino Health and making healthcare easier for everyone involved,” Bimber says. “When I’m not working, I spend most of my time with my family, especially my two kids. My goal is to have them love the beautiful outdoors of Portland, Oregon as much as I do.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.

Published on: February 16, 2023

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