School saving big bucks on health costs by using firm

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Columbia Falls School District 6 has seen significant savings by using a separate company to negotiate healthcare rates with out-of-area health care providers.

ELAP Services helps self-insured groups negotiate costs with health care providers and has been working with the district since July 2015.

The company reviews claims and then adjusts what the school will pay for health services based either on 12 percent over cost of the service or 20 percent over the Medicare allowable rate, whichever is higher.

For the 160 claims that have been submitted since the district started using the company, the school has a seen an average of a 69 percent savings, district Clerk Dustin Zuffelato recently reported to the school board.

The district was billed a little less than $2.1 million since 2015, but has seen a savings of $1.445 million, Zuffelato noted in his report.

He said most the savings came from when a person sought out-of-state treatment from a specialized hospital.

The district, which is completely self-insured, has tried to use ELAP Services with local hospitals — North Valley and Kalispell Regional Medical Center, but without much success. North Valley gives the school a discounted rate off its normal bill charge of 18 percent and KRMC gives a discounted rate of about 15 percent off of a normal bill charge, but they haven’t allowed the school to use ELAP.

KRMC in particular has been difficult to negotiate with in the past, though with a change in leadership at the helm of the hospital, the hope is the school can get a better deal in the future, Zuffelato noted.

The district spends about $2.5 million annually to insure its 250 employees and their family members.

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