Consolidation committee hears pitches on health benefits

pramati@macon.comFebruary 21, 2013 

Five consulting firms made health care pitches Thursday to a Macon-Bibb County Consolidation Task Force committee.

Of the 11 firms that initially responded to the task force’s request for proposals, only one is based in Macon: BB&T Insurance.

The others -- Arthur J. Gallagher Inc., ShawHankins, Northwestern Benefit and The Segal Co. -- have offices in cities across Georgia.

All five took different approaches on how they would consult on health care for the new consolidated government’s employees. All of them, however, included some component that would focus on preventive care through employee wellness.

Each firm was given 15 minutes to make its presentation to the Human Resources Committee. The firm that wins the contract will help the new task force put together a health care package for employees.

“They’ve given us a lot of information to process,” said former state Sen. Miriam Paris, chairwoman of the committee. “I felt these were the best of the 11 that submitted RFPs. Each company had their own distinct specialty that they work in.”

Officials from BB&T noted that the company was invested in the community and would be affected by the new government. Representatives said the company is willing to negotiate its fee, going from a proposed $96,000 for a 16-month contract to $72,000 per year for a three-year deal.

Gallagher takes a different approach to finding a health care provider. Rather than search the market for the best prices, the firm establishes its own price point, then invites providers to meet it. Gallagher, which works with Bibb County and the city of Warner Robins, offered its services for $87,000 a year for three years.

ShawHankins, which has six offices throughout the Southeast, works with 50 different public entities among the 300 employers it does business with. It would look for health cost savings in part through wellness programs. It’s basic rate would be $61,440 per year, plus commission.

Northwestern Benefit has a branch office in Macon. Its executives told the committee they wanted the new government to negotiate its final fee after it is established. It offered a four-point plan, and its fees would be capped at $120,000 a year.

Segal, which has 21 branches across the nation, works with most of the government entities in metro Atlanta as well as the city of Savannah and the Savannah-Chatham County school district. Its approach would be to examine the current city and county benefit plans side by side, then tailor something for the new government. The firm would charge $140,000 for this year to create the plan, then work for a monthly retainer of $7,000 -- $84,000 per year.

“Certainly, everyone is looking at costs, but we’re more interested in providing for the best interests of our employees,” Paris said.

The committee is scheduled to meet again March 7 and is scheduled to make its recommendation to the full task force March 20.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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