Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Council Hears Health Insurance Strategies

Representatives of an insurance brokerage gave the City Council some ideas Tuesday on how to cope with skyrocketing health care costs.

Disease management, or teaching employees how to become healthier, is the key to slowing down “medical inflation,” which now stands at 11 to 12 percent yearly, representatives of Willis HRH said. Senior Vice Presidents John Moore and Mark Lawrie, along with Vice President for Public Relations Otis Anderson, detailed strategies including identifying employees with chronic major conditions such as diabetes or heart trouble.

“We educate each person on his or her own conditions,” Lawrie said.

Healthy eating and stress reduction are also part of the wellness program.

The company also performs a risk analysis to discern patterns, such as repeat claims by individuals and workplace settings that generate more claims than others.

“Your loss history sort of becomes your DNA,” Moore said. “The more information you can give an underwriter, the better they understand the risk.”

The presenters also gave examples of their non-traditional approach, such as approaching carriers in mid-contract to negotiate better rates. Click here to read a Plaintalker post about how Willis HRH was able to save the Plainfield school district $1 million by negotiating lower rates.

Anderson said the company is the third largest in its field.

The presentation during a council budget session was preceded by a lengthy exchange on whether it was appropriate. Though it was called educational and not a sales pitch, Councilman William Reid said he didn’t understand why a private company would come in and “give us a workshop.”

After City Council President Rashid Burney said he understood it was not the council’s purview to hire a company, Reid again questioned the rationale for the presentation.

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” Burney said.

But City Administrator Marc Dashield cited executive responsibility and said, “There is some concern about overstepping these bounds.”

Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson said the city already has an insurance manager that was approved by the council and is under contract and suggested a request could have been made to Dashield. Williamson also noted there is a bidding process that must be followed.

After more dickering over whether the presentation would be crossing a line, Councilman Adrian Mapp said there was nothing to preclude the council from bringing in anyone it chooses “to present information.”

“I think we are saying the same thing in a different way,” Williamson said.

It turned out that a resident’s concerns about city health insurance costs sparked the informational session.

Resident Jay Ahlbeck said he had spoken with Burney and wanted to see a more pro-active approach.

Before the presenters left, Burney noted that Anderson was a two-time New York Giants Super Bowl winner and Anderson confirmed that his massive, diamond-encrusted rings signified his wins in 1986 and 1991.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You now have the reason things do not get done in this city. You have a bunch of Insurance guys who are trying to educate the council as to what to look for in your insurance manager so that Plainfield gets the biggest bang for its buck. Nothing can be done without council approval, and yet it takes an act of Congress to let these people talk. What is the problem?

4:54 PM  

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