Keenan & Associates, the largest privately held insurance brokerage and consulting firm in California, has announced a program to assist public agencies in applying for participation in the new Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The research, analysis and application for program certification requires some 170 hours to complete, an imposing challenge for agencies with limited internal resources.

Timeliness and accuracy are critical, because DHHS will send any incomplete or insufficient applications back to the end of the line, reimbursement requests are processed on a first-come/first-served basis, and program funding is limited.

Keenan offers comprehensive, step-by-step assistance in completing the application and certification process. In the first months of the program, Keenan has already helped 20 agencies become eligible for over $8 million in reimbursements. Of those that have completed the application process with Keenan to date, 100% have been approved. And the turnaround time for application approval from DHHS has averaged just two to four weeks.

For example, the Monterey County Schools Insurance Group (MCSIG) is a multi-employer schools health insurance pool serving nearly 6,000 participants, one-third of whom are retirees. Like most other school-based organizations, they are juggling a cascade of pressing issues including health care reform, mental health parity, ARRA and HIPAA.

“In a time of escalating health care costs when our participants are struggling to meet their out-of-pocket medical expense obligations and our member schools are facing their most difficult budget challenges ever, becoming certified to participate in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program was not an option for us, it was a necessity. We simply could not risk rejection of our application,” said Sherrell Freeman, MCSIG Executive Director. “Keenan provided comprehensive value from completion and filing of the application to collection and presentation of the claims for reimbursement, which will total approximately $1.4 million during our first two years in the ERRP program.”

Keenan support encompasses the entire process, including acquisition of data from carriers (including HMOs); review of data, projections and policies; legal support in interpreting subsidy regulations; assistance in the final reconciliation process; and participation in any potential audits. Most other services offered to plan sponsors, such as those from by insurance companies and health plans, are only partial in nature.

The Keenan technical and legal teams have been directly involved with DHHS on the ERRP program since before the regulations on the subsidy were issued. This proactive approach has resulted in rapid success for Keenan clients.

In addition, Keenan expertise in the full lifecycle of ERRP requirements, from plan design and cost reduction components to actuarial analysis and administrative provisions necessary to accurately complete the application, translates into a streamlined application process.

“Current economic conditions and revenue outlook are already putting extreme budget pressures on local agencies. This early retiree health care subsidy is a significant opportunity to relieve some of that pressure,” said John Scatterday, Keenan Senior Vice President and Public Agency Employee Benefits Practice Leader. “Our goal is to help these agencies participate in and gain important financial benefits from this program as soon as possible.”

ERRP offers reimbursement of 80% of the portion of early retiree claims paid in the plan year totaling between $15,000 and $90,000. The program is available to virtually all self-funded and fully insured employment-based plans (other than Federal plans), without regard to the source of funding. For program details, visit http://errp.gov/.

For information on Keenan insurance brokerage and consulting programs, visit www.keenan.com.

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