AAA, ProMedica start health-services joint venture

Nov. 17—The American Automobile Association has for generations offered consumers connections to maintenance and roadside assistance for their cars, travel-agency and services recommendations for their trips, and insurance for their vehicles and lives.

In a joint venture with Toledo-based ProMedica, the third-largest club in AAA's federation will soon look to become a broker referring America's seniors to health and lifestyle products and services and a navigator helping them understand senior-specific programs as Medicare and Social Security.

Between ages 60 and 70 "you make more life-transitioning decisions than you have in the previous 30 years," Kathleen Krueger, the president and chief executive of the new AAA HealthConnect venture, said during a news conference announcing its creation at ProMedica's Talmadge Road campus Wednesday afternoon.

"We are really excited to continue our organization's legacy of coming to the rescue," said Tom Wiedemann, chief executive officer of Cincinnati-based AAA Club Alliance, Inc., the third largest member of the auto club federation.

The 55-and-over demographic has "grown up with AAA, and now we're going to help them on the next phase of life's journey," Mr. Wiedemann said.

And Randy Oostra, ProMedica's president and CEO, called the new venture "a one-stop, consumer-facing service that would really allow you to navigate everything you need to do with your health."

Clinical care only accounts for about 20 percent of what seniors spend on their health and longevity, with the rest falling in such areas as nutrition, Mr. Oostra said. But access to information they need "is fragmented, not integrated."

AAA HealthConnect is slated to start operations early next year and function on a membership basis, just as the auto club already does. Along with providing links to "2,000 various products," it will provide an online social forum for its members and a live call center to provide members with guidance and referrals.

"There's no one-stop shop for all these things," Mr. Wiedemann said. "There's no easy way to understand what's real information and what's website information."

And while AAA HealthConnect will be piloted in northwest Ohio, "We definitely plan on expanding across the country" once the early results have been evaluated and any adjustments made, he said.

Membership pricing remains to be determined, Mr. Wiedemann said before noting that consumers will be able to buy memberships either for themselves or as gifts. More information will be publicized both online and using direct-mail advertising closer to the rollout, he said.

A preliminary website at which interested people may sign up for more information is already operating:

AAA HealthConnect's operations will be divided between ProMedica and AAA facilities, with administrative functions based in Toledo while its call center will be in Cincinnati. Ms. Krueger comes to AAA HealthConnect from ProMedica's executive suite, while Josh Peyton, the new venture's chief operating officer, is coming in from AAA Club Alliance.

In talking with the public to develop plans, Ms. Krueger said, AAA HealthConnect leaders found people who "are just looking for help" with the new situations they will encounter as they, or those they care for, age.

The most common response to the AAA HealthConnect concept, she said, was, "It's about time."

"We will be a trusted and reliable source for information, guidance, and products and services that have been curated and vetted," Ms. Krueger said.

First Published November 17, 2021, 5:18pm