When Bob Capperella ’64 first began working on the U.S. Healthcare account as a hugely successful IBM sales representative, he had no idea it would plant the seed for a second career. But after several meetings with U.S. Healthcare founder Leonard Abramson, Capperella found himself drawn to managed care.
“[Abramson] was a fascinating person; his enthusiasm interested me,” recalls Cappperella, who opted to take early retirement from IBM after 25 years there and shift careers. “Managed care attempted through HMOs to control costs, and — not that it didn’t work somewhat — it created a lot of other problems and costs. It was fascinating to me, and I thought maybe I could make some contributions.”
As vice president and chief operating officer of national consulting firm Integrated Therapeutics Institute LLC, Capperella recently worked with a high-profile company to analyze whether it should raise co-pays and coinsurance for employees who need specialty drugs like Enbrel, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and Procrit, used to treat fatigue and anemia. The result was what he calls a “win-win-win” situation.
“Specialty drugs, also called biologics, are newer and expensive and are not used by the entire employee population, only a few with a condition that is causing them to use the drug,” he explains. “Many employers continue to raise co-pays and coinsurance for these drugs, and those employees who are the sickest are strapped with additional out-of-pocket costs that quite frankly, they can least afford. That being said, this study showed that the employer did not have to raise co-pays or coinsurance in order to contain costs. It’s a win-win-win: The drug company gets what it wants because it sells a lot of the specialty drugs and it validates that the drugs help people, employees get the drugs they need, and the company looks like a good guy for providing these drugs. There was such a small percentage of people using the drugs that it wasn’t worth it to make the co-pays higher.”
Working with a wide range of people is an area in which Capperella excels. He earned Eagle designation as one of IBM’s top sellers.
“Almost all my life, I have been an extremely positive person,” he says. “I absolutely loved my time at IBM — a great company with a great tradition. It helped to build my character. Due to my business experience with IBM, I was able to transition to a second career, a move I immediately knew was right for me. I was invigorated to help organizations in the managed care arena.”
Transitioning among disparate disciplines and fields is nothing new to Capperella, an electrical engineering graduate. His well-rounded Lafayette education has helped him in a field that doesn’t always have a clear answer.
“By being an engineering student at a liberal arts college, I was able to not only obtain the technical abilities of engineering, but to be cross-pollinated with the liberal arts curriculum,” he says. “This guy I know is a technical genius and builds his own computers, but he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. What the liberal arts side of Lafayette did was not let me go off the deep end too technically and look at things just pragmatically like an engineer does. The world isn’t black and white; it’s a shade of gray.”