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City of Longview employee health plan seeks to secure savings

City of Longview employee health plan seeks to secure savings
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 9:31am

Usually by mid-August, Longview city health plan Risk Manager Terri Fields has already secured employee insurance rates for the upcoming fiscal year.

This summer, however, a recent divorce of the plan’s third-party administrator and its CEO has delayed Fields’ budgeting process and put hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings — earned by low claims expenses — at risk. As a result, she led health plan trustees Wednesday to take actions that might rescue the savings and lead Longview municipal workers to a new third-party administrator.

Trustees followed her recommendation and appointed Tom Slack as its agent of record for the city’s employee health benefit plan effectively immediately.

For several years, Slack has served in that role as CEO of Tyler-based HealthFirst, which processes claims for the city’s health plan. In July, Slack and HealthFirst parted ways after a 15-year relationship, with many of the company’s claims processors and other agents following Slack to a new firm he has opened across the street in Tyler, Fields told trustees. Before his split with HealthFirst, Slack had discussed possible savings the city could get in its health claims rates as a result of “an exceptional year” in claims to the health plan this past year, Fields said.

Slack will continue serving as the city’s agent in issues of excess stop loss, life, accidental death and dismemberment, long-term disability and transplant services. He has served as a licensed agent particularly in the health care industry since his first job with Blue Cross/Blue Shield in 1969, and he is licensed in 20 states, according to his resumé.

“I foresee a savings of about $250,000 in our Stop Loss renewal because of our relationship with Mr. Slack,” Fields said. She credits Slack’s involvement and leadership the past few years in several initiatives — giving employees free preventative care, establishing a wellness clinic, opening network coverage to both Longview hospitals and contracting for transplant claims services — as direct reasons that the health plan has budgeted flat during the past three years.

Read the full story here.

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