“Oh yeah, I was skeptical from the beginning,” says Tom Balmer, owner of PSC Distribution, and who recently received a $34,000 refund from ECCHIC on his insurance plan with us. “[The ECCHIC plan] seemed pie-in-the-sky, and we wanted to kick the tires. But Howard and his team has delivered on containing expenses.”
I first met Tom about five years ago when I was traveling through Iowa City. Formerly Plumber’s Supply Company, he is a fourth generation owner of the owned wholesale distributor of plumbing related products, HVAC, hydronics, countertops, cabinetry and lighting. “We sell to plumbers,” he explains. “We just been blessed to celebrate our 65th year in business, and I’ve been here since I was a kid.” The company serves mostly Eastern Iowa plumbers, and today he has around 50 employees.
Tom really represents completely the type of small town small business owner we can really help. Not that it was easy to land PSC Distribution as a client. As he says, “[ECCHIC] had a different approach to health insurance, so I listened, because if there’s a different way of doing something, I’m interested in hearing it.” He did listen, and boy, did he kick the tires. He asked a lot of questions, which we like. Going from a Blue Cross/Blue Shield type plan to a completely pro-active management plan does require the owner engaging in how it works, though certainly no more than successful owners who track all their company’s expenses in other aspects of their business.
“We were actually in a partially self-funded arrangement with a back-up plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, so there were some similarities between the two, though with ECCHIC it’s a lot less expensive,” Tom says, adding: “There are times I have to spend outside the standard statically average of the plan if there is a year where there are more claims than usual, but even then that’s not more than what I was paying under my old insurance plan.”
This is what we work hard for companies like PSC to hear: “The cost has been to our advantaged, and there have been no cuts to benefits, so ECCHIC has worked out really well for us,” Tom says. “And I say that both from a business owner perspective and an employee perspective.” The company’s and what the individual employee’s premiums are down. As he bluntly states: “It means that we’re no longer just giving money away – we’re not just sending the same amount off to some big insurance company every month for nothing. Many people who go through a [traditional] plan don’t actively think about it, they don’t realize that when they pay ‘x’ every month for a premium, they are paying for things that they are not using.” (I have to add to that that when they do pay, they are paying premium prices, and ECCHIC negotiates discounted wholesale prices.) “Every month I was paying $300 dollars in premiums and didn’t really get anything – now I’m paying $100 and if I do see a doctor, then I pay the extra amount then. From a business prospective, when you have control of all that, you can see where the money goes and what you’re getting for it instead of just giving away $1,000 in premium costs you won’t ever get back.”
Tom has a personal story about the pharmaceutical plan we created for him, too. “That is one of the most important pieces, because I can’t reiterate enough that 80 percent of drugs are maintenance-type drugs. I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was five years old, and while every year the cost of insulin itself doesn’t go up, the cost of the premium for it on my old plan would go up five, 10, even 20 percent. That’s just to live, because it’s not a temporary thing. But now by having direct control, I just pay for it and at a discounted price, and no longer has to pay jacked-up premium prices. That’s a big thing.”
It is a big thing. Add in the refund he received, and it’s a real big thing.
ECCHIC is all about helping small businesses control their cost and get the same deals the big companies get. Our methods allow you to insure for the unpredictable and unaffordable occurrences of healthcare problems at minimalized premium levels, while still accessing medical services and prescriptions at discounted price levels, which is what true insurance is really designed to do. We’re proud of our team and the work we do for good families like the Balmer’s and look forward to a discussion with you to see if we can get similar results for your company.