Personal, local service shines
Network Health customer service excels at making clients happy
08 / 22 / 2007
Maria Nelson, Media Relations
Affinity Health System
(920) 554-0686 (pager)
KAUKAUNA, Wis. – As human resource director for Larry’s Piggly Wiggly, a grocery store chain in Northeast Wisconsin that employs 489, one of Jane Schaefer’s duties was to administer the company’s self-funded insurance plan.
Under self-funded insurance plans, large employers operate their own health insurance plan and pay a third party to administer the plan that the employer has designed for its employees. The employer pays the costs—claims plus administration—directly.
And for years, even as health insurance costs grew out of control, the grocer’s self-funded plan was the envy of businesses throughout the Fox River Valley. “We were really able to manage our costs and keep rates down for the employees,” Schaefer says. “I would get phone calls from other companies asking how we were able to do it.”
Things were running smoothly until a few years ago when the company experienced a couple large stop-loss cases. “At that time we decided to re-evaluate if a self-funded plan was a good fit for the company,” Schaefer recalls. It was after a thorough review and the stop-loss incidences that Schaefer and the company owner, Tom Verhagen, decided they needed to purchase coverage from an insurer.
“I thought it was going to be a hard transition for the employees,” Schaefer says about going from a self-funded plan to a fully-funded plan with a health insurance company. “After all, we had operated for so long as a self-funded plan and it worked really well. The last thing I wanted was to create turmoil for employees.”
The apprehension Schaefer felt ended when Larry’s Piggly Wiggly opted to be insured by Network Health Plan, a locally owned and operated health insurance company based in Menasha. “The transition to Network Health Plan was so seamless,” Schaefer says. “And it was the Network staff that made the transition so smooth.”
As soon as a sale is made, one of five Network Health Plan account managers works with the employer group on a transition plan and schedules a number of informational employee meetings to educate them on Network Health, Affinity Health System and the physicians of Affinity Medical Group.
“This really is a critical time,” says Penney Leverenz, a Network Health Plan account manager, and the person who worked with Schaefer and Larry’s Piggly Wiggly employees. “We really have 90 days before their coverage begins to make employees feel comfortable with the plan and the doctors that are available to them.”
“Our job is to answer all their questions,” Leverenz says. This means that in addition to employee meetings, meeting with employees one-on-one to talk about their specific medical needs. “We provide hands-on customer service and we will do whatever we need to in order to make the transition a smooth one.”
This type of personal service can’t be found from many of the larger insurers but because Network Health Plan is locally owned and operated, focus on customer service is a priority. “We’re partners in this,” Leverenz says about the relationship between Network and its employer groups. “The employers we work with are more than our clients, they are our neighbors. It’s important that we treat them well.”
“I commend Network Health for its excellent focus on the customer,” Schaefer says.
For the Editor:
Affinity Health System, a faith-based regional health care network, is the Fox Valley’s second-largest employer, according to the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry. For the fourth consecutive year, Affinity has been named one of the nation’s top 64 health systems based on clinical performance according to Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care. For ten consecutive years, Affinity Health System has been named to the SDI (formerly Verispan) Integrated Health Network Top 100, an annual assessment of the 100 most highly integrated health care networks in the nation. Both St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh rank among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide in terms of quality and efficiency, as determined by the 2007 Premier | CareScience Select practice National Quality Award. Members of Affinity include Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Health Foundation, Oshkosh; St. Elizabeth Hospital and the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Appleton; Affinity Medical Group, a regional network of 25 family practice and specialty clinics – 22 of which are recognized as NCQA Level III medical homes, the highest level of recognition – in 14 communities; Calumet Medical Center, Chilton; and Affinity Occupational Health.