Powerful Partnership

After acquiring an additional third party administration firm, Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana is better positioned than ever to provide increased flexibility and control to its clients.
Jun 4, 2021
Jennifer Blomquist
Jeffrey Crane

As part of a growth strategy that has been in the works for a few years, this past winter Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana (PHP) officially acquired Core Benefits, Inc., a third-party administrator (TPA).

“Prior to 2017, it was a strategy of PHP’s to expand our self-funded TPA services,” says Gary Shearer, president and CEO of PHP, a nonprofit, physician-sponsored health insurance provider, headquartered in Fort Wayne since it was founded in 1983.

A TPA provides administrative services for employers who self-fund their health plans and other ancillary benefits.

“In October of 2017, PHP made an acquisition that expanded our capabilities, the number of clients that we could serve, and the number of personnel dedicated to TPA services,” says Shearer. “We wanted to continue to grow through acquisition and through organic means, but we also needed to add more capabilities. I joined PHP in May of 2019 and shortly afterward I began having conversations with Neil Ropp and Lisa Gibson, the two principles of Core Benefits, Inc. It took a number of months for us to get to the point where we felt comfortable bringing our two companies together. For PHP, it was really in pursuit of diversifying our revenue stream, adding additional clients and expertise on the TPA side, and bringing in leadership that we needed in the form of Lisa and Neil to really guide that subsidiary and piece of business going forward.”

The acquisition became official on Jan. 1 of this year. PHP has re-branded the TPA division into what is now called PHP TPA Services.

All Core Benefits’ employees, including Ropp and Gibson, relocated to the PHP office on Magnavox Way in southwest Fort Wayne. 

“Neil and I started Core Benefits twenty years ago,” says Lisa Gibson, who now serves as PHP TPA services president. “It was a small company and we had built a strong, local TPA that was very customer-focused. Our goal was to find a partnership with somebody that allowed us to continue to focus on and provide security to our employees and clients and that is what PHP brought to the table.”

Employers have a few choices when it comes to deciding how to fund a health plan for their employees. The choices include traditional fully-insured coverage, level funded solutions, or self-funding. PHP offers all three choices. 

“In general, the self-funded space is typically most appropriate for employers who have 50 or more employees,” says Shearer. “It’s what we call the ‘large group space’ with clients who may have more flexible resources and are looking for ways to customize their plan and keep their costs down.”

“The benefit of providing all of these options is to offer a variety of solutions for groups that have traditionally been fully insured with PHP and can now explore funding options like self-funded as an alternative to contain costs and to take care of their employees,” says Chief Sales Officer Matt Roskuski. “As companies grow and their employee benefits needs change, we can make product adjustments to meet clients’ individual needs. We have the ability under one roof to migrate them from one product type to another.” 

Roskuski further explains that given how complicated employee health insurance is on top of all the demands employers face on a regular basis to maintain their businesses, turning to a reputable TPA to handle the insurance work just makes sense.

“Being able to rely on somebody for that expertise and knowledge is huge. That’s where PHP comes in. Now, with the addition of Lisa and Neil’s team, we’re bringing even more capabilities and understanding to our clients on the TPA side of the house. Having someone to rely on and consult with in understanding the intricacies of self-funding your health plan is key. And on top of all that is the fact that we’re right here in Fort Wayne, which means we can build a really close relationship with folks as we partner to provide solutions. I think that makes us unique – the fact that we’re local and we take a personal approach.”

“At PHP, we only offer group products and services, so we’re focused specifically in this market on helping employers manage and administer health coverage and benefits for their employees,” says Shearer. “Everything we do is to add value to our partnerships: whether that be with service and expertise for our client and broker partners, through our philanthropic efforts with our nonprofit community partners, and in providing the best experience for our covered members.”

The personalized, partnership approach is perfectly in sync with the foundation that Gibson and Ropp used to build Core Benefits, Inc. Now that they have joined forces with PHP, they can offer those same services on a larger scale.

“By having that hands-on approach and being able to get involved and to make a difference for the client, that’s what a TPA should be doing for you if you’re a self-funded client,” says Gibson. “In the 30 years I’ve been in the insurance business, the point has always been that we shouldn’t just be cutting checks. At any level, we should be identifying those situations where we can make a difference. So, by being local and by working closely with the clients that we serve, we have the ability to make a difference. We have a proven track record. Our goal is to be that superior organization that doesn’t just cut checks, but instead, we find solutions for the employer.” 

Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana (PHP)

Address: 1700 Magnavox Way, Suite 201 Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804

Phone: (260) 432-6690

Website: phpni.com

Years in Business: 38

Number of Employees: 180

Products & Services: PHP was established in 1983 by area physicians, and has grown to 180 employees serving over 65,000 members. PHP’s products include group health, dental, prescription drugs, life, disability, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA). The PHP TPA (third-party administrator) Services division offers comprehensive employer TPA services and cost containment solutions as well as self-funded administrative services for medical, dental, vision, prescription drugs, short term disability, FSA, HRA and COBRA.

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