From free lunch to freedom to do their work, employees of CoverMyMeds are breaking new ground in a fledgling industry and in a Top Workplace.

CoverMyMeds turns the cliché "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" on its head five days a week-literally.

The Columbus company, which helps physicians, pharmacists and their staff secure insurance coverage for prescription drugs for patients, provides a free lunch to its employees every day. The meal is just one of the many benefits CoverMyMeds provides to its workers.

"I love the team members I get to work with, the managers care about us and we get free lunch!" wrote one employee in a recent workplace survey.

Said another: "Communication is clear, I feel involved. Employee perks are fun and make me feel as if quality of life (at work and when off work) is valued by the company."

Basically, the work of CoverMyMeds is about quality of life. The company helps medical professionals quickly attain "prior authorization," an agreement by insurance companies to cover a medication that is not covered by a patient's plan.

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The work is meaningful to everyone involved, including the employees working at CoverMyMeds, says Michelle Brown, the company's vice president of operations. For that reason and others, the company seeks bright people who are capable of doing unique things, she says.

"We look for people who are results-oriented and who like to solve problems," Brown says. "If folks are just looking to have a job, this is not the right place. But if they want to be part of something bigger, this offers great opportunities."

CoverMyMeds is a one-of-a-kind organization. Starting in 2008, it revolutionized the former burdensome chore required of doctors and pharmacies to submit "hundreds of millions" of prior authorization requests annually through paper-based forms. Instead, the company developed software that automates the process from inside a pharmacy, which can be completed in minutes, says Matt Scantland, principal and co-founder of the company along with Sam Rajan.

"Before, doctors might spend eight hours a week interacting with insurance companies," Scantland says. "Our software lets pharmacies initiate a prior authorization when an insurance company rejects a claim, and we share that electronically with the doctor. Often, we get a real-time approval."

The prior authorization process was a major problem for the industry that remained unresolved for a long time, Scantland says.

Now, CoverMyMeds is a one-stop-shop process operating nationally, with a second office in Twinsburg, Ohio. It is the only company that has automated the process by using electronic data, Scantland says.

The company is growing quickly and expects to continue in that direction, with an expectation that it will have 140 employees working here by April. From 2013 to 2014, the company more than doubled the count of prior authorizations coming through its website, from 5 million to 13 million.

"We've about doubled the size of the company each year from the beginning. It's really growth driven by our customers because we are solving a big problem that the whole industry is interested in solving," Scantland says. "When the process does not work and people don't get the drugs they need, they get sicker and that costs the healthcare system more money."

CoverMyMeds grants its employees much latitude and autonomy to do their jobs, Brown says.

"They are given room to shine and to fail, I suppose," she says. "But they contribute in ways that I'm not sure other organizations take advantage of."

The company recognizes its people with benefits, rewards and incentives. At the annual CoverMyQuest event, the three employees who come up with the best presentations for using free money are given life-enrichment grants of $3,000 each. Pitches range from humor to philanthropic to personal life goals.

"One guy got to go to "The Price is Right" and take people and they got in. One of those employees got to the table and won a showcase showdown," Brown says. "People have used the money to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, and one helped a relative whose daughter was going through early health concerns."

The company embraces any opportunity to help startup companies by mentoring and offering sponsorships, especially when the work involves technology. It is heavily involved with Start Up Weekend Columbus, an annual 54-hour event that brings together developers, entrepreneurs and experts who explore ideas and startup pitches, Scantland says.

"We want to be the best place for ambitious people in Ohio to work, and we've done a great job in teaching technology," he says. "We are a heavy user of open source and we release our own projects."

CoverMyMeds stays actively involved with philanthropy, too, sponsoring Pelotonia, a rowing team for breast cancer survivors, Independents' Day, Habitat for Humanity, Healthcare Businesswomen's Association and others.

"We have smart, fun and innovative people who are interested in their community and interested in giving back," Brown says. "These are the kind of people you want as your neighbors."

Job satisfaction remains high, and the company offers quality benefits, including full health insurance, 401(k) and free parking. And then there is in-house Chef Becky Nation.

The company started serving free lunches from its earliest days, but it was much easier with only 10 employees, Brown says.

"A typical lunch might be salmon, quinoa salad or five kinds of bratwurst or kielbasa," Brown says. "Folks here say it is their main meal, and they have peanut butter and jelly for dinner."

TC Brown is a freelance writer.