A few months ago, an AutoNation Inc. employee called the leadership team after a doctor gave her daughter a cancer prognosis. She wanted to get her daughter a second opinion, but prestigious cancer centers couldn't fit her into their schedules soon enough.
AutoNation executives called the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. Because of the company's contributions to the center, Moffitt took the employee's daughter the next day and gave her another treatment option.
Through AutoNation's Drive Pink initiative, the company has developed relationships with cancer centers across the country and initiated company policies to assist employees and their family members who are fighting cancer.
If employees or their family members are diagnosed with cancer and get a prognosis with a local physician, they can call a confidential number, and AutoNation will arrange an appointment at a major cancer center for another evaluation, CEO Mike Jackson said.
"Associates immediately saw this wasn't a poster on the wall," Jackson said. "It has a very meaningful, tangible difference for them, in their lives and challenges in their families. This gave them a great deal of conviction that they were with a company that genuinely cared."
This year, AutoNation has taken its commitment to assisting employees affected by cancer a step further with a company-paid insurance policy for employees and covered dependents. Starting Jan. 1, associates could file a claim to MetLife and receive a cash payment of up to $5,000.
"The beauty of the cash payment is that there are no restrictions on it," said Paula Levenson, AutoNation's manager of corporate affairs and communications. Employees can use the cash for bills, their health insurance deductible or a family vacation, she said.
MetLife had more than 1,500 employer-sponsored cancer and critical illness plans in 2017, but just 5 percent of them were employer-paid, according to information it provided to AutoNation. Furthermore, those plans typically are tied to high-deductible insurance coverage, whereas AutoNation makes the benefit available to all employees and covered dependents, regardless of their medical plan elections.
"If you live in the Tampa Bay area, there are not many people that don't know someone who has been treated by, saved by or helped by the Moffitt Cancer Center," said Dave Koehler, president of AutoNation's Tampa Bay market.
AutoNation's employees feel that cancer is a battle for everyone, but there is strength in numbers, Levenson said. AutoNation's 27,000 employees are "united in a common goal," she said. Events such as Drive Pink Across America Day, when employees nationwide delivered more than 5,000 gift bags to cancer treatment centers, "gave us a rallying cry," she said. "It gave us a common mission."