Springs outfit part of UCHealth merger to help employers with self-funded health plans

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Published: December 12, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

University of Colorado Health will merge operations in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins into a new division that it hopes will broaden its reach in providing administrative services to large employers that fund health coverage for their workers and families.

Beginning Jan. 1, UCHealth Plan Administrators will combine Medical Network of Colorado Springs with United Medical Alliance in Fort Collins, and also expand with a branch in the Denver area.

Currently, both operations handle enrollment, claims processing and other administrative tasks for part of the hospital system and 19 other employers who insure 19,000 workers and their family members.

The goal of the merger is to provide its administrative services to more outside businesses in areas served by UCHealth's network of five hospitals, including Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, said Kathy Major, executive director and vice president of UCHealth Plan.

Self-funded health plans are typically offered by employers with 75 or more employees. They are typically less costly because the employer directly insures its workers rather than paying an insurance company for coverage, and such plans are not subject to state insurance premium taxes, Major said.

UCHealth Plan Administrators hopes to double its size next year by expanding into Denver and more aggressively marketing its services, Major said. UCHealth Plan Administrators, which employs 10 each in the Springs and Fort Collins and five in the Denver area, could double the size of its staff if it meets that goal, she said.

"We are the only hospital system in the state offering this service. This isn't just a another line of business for us; it is all we do," Major said. "We believe we will be able to handle claims better than most other administrators because we have a truly integrated model with all of our hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacies and other providers linked to the same medical records system."

UCHealth Plan Administrators has no immediate plans to expand beyond handling administration for self-funded plans by offering comprehensive coverage to small businesses and individuals, she said.

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