$17M for worker health plan cost-cuts firm

Accolade Inc., a Plymouth Meeting-based management service that gets paid to help companies spend less on employee healthcare, told the Securities and Exchange Commission it raised $17 million from investors last month, plus $4 million back in January.

Accolade's board includes former U.S. Sen. Dr. William Frist, R-Tenn., and former Aetna chief executive Dr. John Rowe. Accolade didn't name its new investors, but here's a hint: Comcast Interactive Capital managing director Michael Yang (a former Yahoo executive) joined the board this year. Directors also include two general partners at NY-based Accretive LLC, which started Accolade. Accretive also started the Fandango movie-ticketing service and sold it to Comcast in 2007.

Accolade's CEO is former Accenture executive Thomas Spann, and he's hired a team of more than a dozen managers who include veterans of health insurers Wellpoint, United Health, Cigna, Anthem BlueCross - plus ex-TV Guide marketing chief John Geiger. Spann wasn't available for comment.

How lucrative is the healthcare-cost-control business? Buyout giants BC Partners and Silver Lake bought New York-based MultiPlan Inc., which says it processes claims for insurers, 5,000 hospitals and over 600,000 doctors and other practicioners today from previous owners Carlyle Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. Wall St Journal reported the buyers paid $3.1 billion, and  BC isn't disputing that figure. Carlyle and partners invested around $20 million in MultiPlan back in 2006.