ASG Perspectives

Relationships: The Heart of Teamwork

Friday, May 12, 2017

Here at ASG, we frequently talk about relationships with our TPA and Broker partners. That’s because the interactions we have are incredibly important not only to our mutual business, but to ensuring we both offer the best possible services while striving to protect our employer groups’ interests.

In several instances, we also maintain important relationships with companies directly.

This is the case with Canon Virginia, Inc., a global manufacturer for Canon’s office and consumer products based in Newport News, Va.


Since 2004, we’ve worked in partnership with Phil Gilstrap, an Independent Broker, and Canon’s Benefits Administration group, led by Jackie Wall and Rhonda Bunn. Jackie and Rhonda administer coverage for the approximately 1,200 employees of Canon Virginia and a nearby subsidiary, all located in and around the Virginia Beach area.

Our relationship with Canon began when the company had been seeking a carrier change. ASG founding member Al Graffam happened to be the first Stop-Loss representative to respond with a complete presentation – and “the relationship has been a success since then,” notes Phil.

At the time, he recalls, the carrier that Canon had been working with seemed to have a philosophy based on looking at all clients equally. “If they had a pool that was bad, they just increased the rate on all players the same way,” he explains. “As a result, Canon was seeing tremendous cost increases on their policies. It seemed like the actuaries were looking at the numbers and saying, ‘Let’s just increase everybody.’”

ASG and Companion Life took a different stance. “Even without any longevity of experience with Canon, they still gave us some relevance when it came to our own loss ratio, and that was key,” says Phil. “Now that we’ve got 14 years in, we feel that ASG can really look at our medical claims and predict our needs. This holds rates down, and saves a ton of money. I crunched some numbers and determined that if we had stayed with the other carrier, based on the increases Canon had in its last year with them, by this time it would have cost Canon in the area of several million dollars.”

The value of this relationship has not been lost on Jackie, Canon Virginia’s Benefit Supervisor. “We know that ASG cares about Canon Virginia and we’re grateful to them for taking care of us,” she says. “It’s refreshing that whenever anything is needed, it’s no more than a phone call or e-mail away. I know I can talk to just about anybody at ASG and have the confidence that it’s being done right.”

Mutual Challenges and Goals

Rhonda, who works as Canon Virginia’s HR & PR Director, notes that like other employers throughout the country, an aging workforce has become a challenge that must be met head-on. “We’re all getting older, and so we’re dealing with things we haven’t had to deal with in the past,” she notes.

For example, 20 years ago the company had a younger workforce and covered more pregnancies, “whereas now it’s dealing more frequently with things like muscular skeletal issues,” says Rhonda.

On the flip side, notes Phil, “Canon is still hiring, and many of the people they’re hiring are young – but they too present a different set of issues. However, because Canon stays ahead of the curve and we’re working with a partner like ASG, the company is able to address trends as they come.”

The team points to the many preventative measures the company has implemented as proactive efforts to keep claims down. Examples include hiring a registered dietician and offering Weight Watchers on-site, both of which have been met with extremely positive reception among team members.

“We’re definitely in touch,” says Jackie. “We try to have that open relationship and have our members tell us what’s happening… what kind of environment would you like to see. They’re very comfortable coming up to HR and saying, ‘What doctor should I see?’ or ‘Can you explain this part of my policy?’ And we are here for them.”

In fact, she notes, Canon Virginia is especially proactive in communicating the economics of insurance coverage with its family members. “We tell them we’re self-funded, and we tell them what it is. We want them to understand their premiums are based on the rates that they pay. If they go unnecessarily not caring about staying in-network or not taking care of themselves, they know that what they do will impact their costs as well. We show them the numbers and they see what they contribute, and what we contribute, and they get it.”

Keeping these lines of communication open feeds into the overall culture at Canon Virginia, which Rhonda notes is based on caring about employees and vendors as a family. She sums up the company’s approach: “We want to work with people who understand our environment and treat us like family – who are responsive, and who customize, and pay attention to the details – and that’s what we get with ASG.” 

For more information about Canon Virginia, visit http://www.cvi.canon.com/.

 

 

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