A beautiful relationship
Integration drives success for local employers, Network Health Plan
12 / 04 / 2006
Maria Nelson, Media Relations
Affinity Health System
(920) 554-0686 (pager)
MENASHA, Wis. – When the Miles Kimball Company decided in 2004 to move from two health insurance plans to a single provider—Network Health Plan—Carol Weidemann was not happy.
Weidemann, who has worked for the Oshkosh, Wis.-based company for 12 years, was apprehensive about leaving the physician with whom she felt comfortable. “I was leery to switch,” she says. “But everyone with Network and Affinity, from the very beginning, has been wonderful. I have been so impressed with everyone.”
The move to Network Health Plan could have been a risky decision for the catalog company, as well as its 630 regular and more than 700-plus seasonal employees. “Anytime you take away choice and ask employees to switch health care providers, you run the risk of angering a segment of the employee base,” says Susan Boettcher, Miles Kimball human resource manager.
For Boettcher and Weidemann, their fears about moving to Network Health Plan disappeared quickly. “Network was so great during the transition,” Boettcher remembers. “They brought in nurses on-site to meet one-on-one with employees. Everyone from Network and from Affinity Health System reassured us both from a human resources standpoint and from an employee standpoint that they would provide us with continuity of care.”
More than two years later, Miles Kimball’s relationship with Network Health Plan is growing even stronger. Network and Affinity helped Miles Kimball launch wellness and occupational health programs, and the company just began piloting on-site pharmacist consultations.
The concept of these on-site meetings with a pharmacist came from Network Health Plan and Affinity Occupational Health, Boettcher says. “They were reviewing our employees’ health risk appraisals and comparing that with the claims paid over the past year, and they suggested this may be a way to help our employees.”
“I love it,” Weidemann says about the on-site pharmacist. “I’ve been taking advantage of that, as well as the Lunch & Learn sessions and everything else associated with Network and Affinity. I am so impressed. I have complete faith in my doctors and nurses.”
This close working relationship with Miles Kimball is not unusual for Network Health Plan. “We treat every employer group with the same level of local attention and caring,” says Richard Bond, vice president of sales for Network Health Plan. The strategies are part of Network’s effort to keep health insurance costs in check and improve the health and wellness of employees.
And it’s this philosophy among Network Health Plan employees that makes the commercial plan of the Menasha, Wis.-based insurer one of America’s Best Health Plans in America, as judged by U.S. News & World Report/National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
The America’s Best Health Plans rankings are based on clinical performance, member satisfaction and NCQA accreditation. Specifically, health plans are ranked in four key categories:
- access to care, which includes consumer experience with getting needed care
- overall consumer satisfaction
- prevention, which includes how often preventive services are provided
- treatment, which includes how well health plans take care of people who have health problems
“We care so much about these folks and these employers because we are here living with them. We’re their neighbors,” Bond says.
The other benefit that Network Health Plan can provide to Miles Kimball and other companies in Wisconsin is an integrated health care delivery system. “The fact that the insurance business is directly connected to Affinity Health System, which has an excellent occupational health component and a top-notch physician group, allows us to provide integrative benefits to employers that other insurers can’t,” Bond says.
Miles Kimball’s Boettcher agrees. “The benefit for us is that they understand the entire picture of Miles Kimball and they are willing to offer specific solutions for our needs,” she says. “Network Health is not just another one of our vendors; they partner with us.”
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.