Melanie Schulman, 60, had envisioned a relatively carefree retirement. However, over the years, her family has been blinded by a series of traumatic losses. Her father passed away unexpectedly in 2020 and shortly thereafter her mother began treatment for dementia. “I became his most important reference person,” she says. “I worked 12 hours a day and I accepted it” [my] The kids left the house and it was really, really hard. ,
Within another three months her father-in-law also died and her mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After months of struggling to keep up with her job and caring responsibilities, balancing prescriptions and doctor appointments, Schulman made the difficult decision to retire earlier than planned. “I can’t break myself into any more pieces,” she says. “It was time.”
Still, there was little Schulman could do to ease the financial burden of caring for two parents: her mother alone required around-the-clock care, which was $4,000 a week. A friend suggested he check out Givers, a reimbursement platform that promised to help. “While I was taking care of the parents and following meds and doctors and everything else, the last thing I wanted to do was sit at the computer, but I said let me try,” she says. “It just appealed to me. I was really excited at the prospect of making financial gains that I didn’t even know existed.”
For Shulman and other family caregivers, the physical and emotional burden of caring for loved ones is so great that it can be impossible to assess possible reimbursement or find out what services they are entitled to — even medical ones. expenses are piling up. Givers, coming out of beta with a $3.5 million seed round, is helping caregivers do just that through a complex matrix of tax credits, government programs, health insurance benefits, and other potential sources of savings. want.
“There’s just no good system for that,” says Max Meblum, founder and CEO of Givers. “When we speak to the people within us” [caregiving] community, we find that most don’t even know what’s available to them.”
The stage was inspired in part by Meblum’s own hopeless experience trying to help his parents care for his grandparents and late aunt, leading him to realize there was a need to ask for information about reimbursement. There was no clear, authoritative source. Most janitors relied on an ad hoc network of Facebook groups and blogs to find such information (if they even knew how to look at it). According to Meblum, the lack of infrastructure is a problem for programs that want to distribute grants. For example, a recent pilot program in Arizona allocated $1 million to compensate families who had ramps and gates in their homes — but ended up handing out only $130,000 because they didn’t get the message effectively. could not. “It’s a multi-hundred-billion-dollar caregiver funding pool that’s too tight-lipped or lagging behind with paperwork and bureaucracy,” says Meblum.
With Givers, Meblum wants to close this gap. When caregivers sign up for the platform, donors begin analyzing their profiles and spend to determine what qualifies them for a range of potential reimbursements. This can include federal tax credits — like the childcare and dependent care credit — as well as state-level tax breaks specifically targeted at caregivers. Then there’s money for the elderly and savings that caregivers can earn through Medicaid and Medicare. To streamline the process, the company launched the Givers Card, a Visa debit card that allows members to put aside their care costs.
Donors reduce member savings by charging a 40% fee, which is slightly less than the bill negotiation services consumers are typically charged to help them save money on monthly bills (although that itself might be an accurate comparison). ). But Givers doesn’t charge membership fees, meaning the company only makes money when it finds savings for users — a nod to value-based healthcare that combines payment with quality of care. “The model was all about the alignment of incentives, with a focus on value creation,” says Meblum. “And I’ve seen it through the company’s values and how hard we work to deliver those savings for our members. Because that is the lifeblood of our company.”
Thousands of caregivers have already started using Givers in beta, saving an average of $4,000 per year. (Despite “minimal” marketing budgets, more than a thousand new members join each month, largely through word of mouth, according to Meblum Givers.) But it’s only a fraction of the population that’s disabling. Cutting down can turn out to be a win. Access: According to a 2020 report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, at least 53 million Americans were doing unpaid caregiving before the pandemic.
Amid aging and labor shortages in the long-term care industry — not to mention the ravages of the pandemic — the burden on family caregivers will continue to mount, with women disproportionately affected. Part of Givers’ appeal to CRV partner Kristin Baker Spawn, the lead investor for Givers’ seed round, was that it wasn’t an employer-based solution that only a handful of maintainers would benefit from. “I was looking for this broad, scalable distribution” [and] sustainable business model that can support caregivers better and faster,” she says.
Beyond reimbursement, Givers positions itself as a more comprehensive resource for caregivers by offering one-on-one coaching and a community forum. The company is also building a marketplace that will offer discounts on popular caregiver products (while also being a source of affiliate revenue for the company). There are currently 10 to 15 products on the market — including Hero’s smart pill dispenser and Aloe Care Health’s fall-detection wearable — but Meblum expects to stock hundreds of items at some point. “Many of the companies in our market today are companies that I recommended to my parents,” he says. “I’m excited to see how the research process to find the best products for my own family can be streamlined.” [other] Supervisor. ,
The prospect of finding savings through donors was certainly Schulman’s first draw. She’s currently on track to save at least $2,000, although that’s a small amount compared to her total expenses. (“Anything I can get my hands on can offset some of the cost,” she explains.) But after spending some time at Givers, she’s pleased to have access to advice and even —this community, which feels more intimate than a large Facebook group. “You see other people in the same situation,” she says. “Even though you don’t know them, you hear their stories and you hear how they get over it. And that is helpful.”