Grand Rapids chooses global health care consultant

For the first time in roughly a decade, the city of Grand Rapids has a new health care consultant who will help guide its employee coverage through the Affordable Care Act this year and beyond.

City commissioners recently approved a three-year agreement with Aon Risk Solutions, a contract that begins New Year’s Day and continues through 2016.

Aon Risk Solutions is a global employee-benefits consultant with 65,000 employees in 120 countries, according to the firm. And that size played a role in why the city chose the company.

“Because they are a national firm, we believe they will be able to effectively utilize their national resources to provide value-added features for our benefit,” said Mari Beth Jelks, administrative services managing director, to commissioners.

“They also have direct access to benchmarking database surveys (at both national and state levels) that we will find extremely useful for a variety of reasons,” she added.

Jelks said Aon submitted the most competitive bid for the type of work it requested. The city will pay the firm $75,000 in the first year, $77,250 in the second year, and $79,550 in year three.

Another factor in the city’s decision was Aon has a local office with about 40 employees at 171 Monroe Ave. NW.

“Also, the (selection) team liked Aon’s strong emphasis on valuing the interpersonal relationships with our union leadership, which they expressed is a key factor to a successfully administered health care program,” said Jelks.

“We know we have many challenges ahead with the new health care law,” she said.

Patrick Coleman, a principal in Coleman, Dugan and Hughes, had been the city’s health care consultant for at least the last 10 years. But Jelks told commissioners Coleman was transitioning the firm out of this type of benefits consulting and wouldn’t be able to continue in that position.

Coleman, Dugan and Hughes recently became Coleman and Hughes, although the new firm’s office is still at 5380 Cascade Road SE.

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