Dallas-based company pitches Manatee schools on cutting health insurance costs

mdelaney@bradenton.comJuly 9, 2014 

BRADENTON -- A potential $414,000 expenditure has Manatee County School Board members discussing whether a concierge service would bring down district health care costs enough to warrant buying it.

The district Health Insurance Committee is recommending entering a contract with Dallas-based Compass to increase transparency and help save health insurance costs.

The company would charge $7.50 per month per employee enrolled in a district health insurance plan. With approximately 4,600 employees enrolled, the services would cost about $414,000 per year. The company does not charge extra for dependents.

Overall, the self-insured district covers almost 10,000 people.

The district projects spending about $48 million out of the general fund for health insurance in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Compass officials project they could save the district $1.8 million in the first year and about $3 million per year after that.

Compass would help employees navigate different service costs through a program called Health Pro and would also encourage employees to take regular, preventative care through a service called Health Prompt.

"We'll do the analysis for you. It's a concierge-level service," said David Toomey, president of Compass Care Engineering, who presented the proposal Tuesday to the school board.

Board members acknowledged bringing down health insurance costs is important, but were not entirely sure if Compass is the way to go.

"I'm not hearing that there's a major difference in what you are doing and what Blue (Cross Blue Shield) is doing," board member Barbara Harvey said. "What are you going to give me that they are not?"

Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner questioned how a company based

in Dallas would help an employee in Bradenton make the best decision. Miner also asked the Health Insurance Committee if it had looked at local companies.

The Compass database is large and the Health Pro employee assigned to the district would respond to employee requests in about 24 hours with analysis, Toomey said.

The Health Insurance Committee sent out a request for information to find companies to provide transparency and a concierge-level service. Four companies were found, including one based in Florida, according to members of the Health Insurance Committee.

"Compass stood way out in what they were able to offer," said Pat Barber, a voting member of the Health Insurance Committee and president of the Manatee Education Association.

Compass has about 2,000 clients, including Sarasota County.

If the district chose to contract with Compass, school board member Robert Gause said potential savings should be verified. Gause said it was "critical."

"I want a plan in place that's going to be able to verify the savings," he said.

Gause also referenced significant changes made by the Manatee Coutny government that saved a substantial amount of money and said the school district had never tried to go down that road.

The board did not take action at the workshop.

In other action, the board heard updates to the district health insurance plan and spending.

Committee officials expect to need a 20 percent total funding increase for 2015 to fund expenses and reserves. The projections are based on no change in benefits or the number of people covered and an expected 8 percent inflation cost based on medical trends. The last premium increase for the district was in June 2012.

So far in 2014, revenue paid into the health insurance fund has exceeded district claims by about $1 million, an increase over the 2013 average.

The district now works with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the medical administrator and Catamaran is the district's pharmacy benefits manager. Three of four district health plans have been offered since 2008. A fourth plan was offered beginning in 2012.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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