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The Phia Group's 3rd Quarter 2018 Newsletter

Phone: 781-535-5600 |

The Book of Russo:
From the Desk of the CEO

The heat wave is here in Boston and so is the increased interest in self-funding. It seems that every day there are new employers, brokers, and others interested in getting in on the fun. What they all don’t realize is that there is no easy button. Building the perfect empowered self-funded employee benefit plan takes time and hard work. It requires attention to detail and a realization that you truly can control the overall cost of claims in your own unique way. Whether it’s changing your payment methodology, your access to pharmacy drugs, your contracting with facilities, or just how you cover out of network claims, the options are endless. Here lies the rub. Having all of these options makes all of us vulnerable to potential pitfalls like gaps in coverage with stop loss or language that is ambiguous at best; worst of all is the potential fiduciary breaches around the corner. This is why The Phia Group exists – to assist all of you in making the perfect self-funded plan. The opportunities are everywhere but so are the traps and the landmines. So while you enjoy a nice cold iced tea reading this quarter’s newsletter, feel happy knowing that we got your back… no matter what.


Service Focus of the Quarter: Phia Unwrapped
Phia Group Case Study
Phia Fit to Print
From the Blogosphere
The Phia Group’s 2018 Charity
The Stacks
Phia’s Speaking Events
Employee of the Quarter
Phia News


Service Focus of the Quarter: Phia Unwrapped

The Phia Group is proud to announce that its “Phia Unwrapped” program has been generating extraordinary savings.

Wrap, extender, and other leased networks offer small discounts and audit restrictions, affording providers nearly unlimited rights. With Phia Unwrapped, The Phia Group replaces wrap network access and modifies non-network payment methodologies, securing payable amounts that are unbeatably low, based upon fair market parameters.

Phia Unwrapped places no minimum threshold on claims to be repriced or potential balance billing to be negotiated, and The Phia Group attempts to secure sign-off, ensuring providers will accept the plan’s payment as payment in full. Phia Unwrapped implementation entails setting up an EDI feed with the claims administrator, so claims are flagged, transferred, and repriced automatically. Phia Unwrapped is billed based on a percent of actual savings, leading to fair rates and no excessive costs for unprecedented savings – and if there’s pushback or balance-billing, our Provider Relations team is ready to handle it.

Out-of-network claims run through The Phia Group's Unwrapped program have yielded a whopping average savings of 74% off billed charges (three times the average wrap discount). On average, The Phia Group sees less than 2% of claims result in some form of balance-billing; these results are similar throughout many different plan types and geographies, proving that this program and these results can be replicated nationwide.

Based on our data, Phia Unwrapped has proven to yield significantly better savings than wrap networks. Can you and your clients afford to maintain the status quo in the face of results like this?

Contact our Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Attorney Tim Callender, to learn more about Phia Unwrapped. Tim can be reached by phone at 781-535-5631 or by email at

Phia Case Study: Phia to the Rescue!

A particular plan participant, covered by a health plan whose subrogation services were provided by The Phia Group, slipped and fell while walking in a parking lot. She subsequently retained a personal injury attorney to represent her and pursue a claim against the owner of the parking lot. The Phia Group promptly placed the attorney on notice of the Plan’s lien.

After some time had elapsed, the plan participant notified The Phia Group that she had only received around $20,000.00 in settlement funds, which was almost equal to the amount of the Plan’s lien; accordingly, the participant requested a reduction, which The Phia Group considered in due course.

After doing some due diligence to confirm the settlement, and examining the considerable resources available to us, The Phia Group’s subrogation team was able to discover that this particular case had actually settled for many times the amount that the participant claimed to have received.

Armed with this information gleaned from diligent investigation, The Phia Group was able to recover the full amount of the Plan’s lien, without the need for any reduction.




Fiduciary Burden of the Quarter: Making Sure the SPD is Sufficient!

The issue of what must be present in an SPD is fairly straightforward at this point; ERISA, the ACA, and other laws have been issued and interpreted, and those that haven’t are subject to the “good faith, reasonable interpretation” guidelines that we all know and love.

In the modern self-funded industry, though, the entities drafting Plan Documents and SPDs are very often not the entities that are legally responsible for creating and ratifying them; the Plan Sponsor must ultimately approve the SPD and is ultimately responsible for the content, but it is very uncommon for the Plan Sponsor itself to do the drafting. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course; everyone uses vendors!

When the employer itself doesn’t draft the Plan Document, though, how diligent is the employer in ensuring compliance and that the document meets the needs of the health plan – and who takes the blame if the document isn’t perfect?

We at The Phia Group have seen numerous instances – both in court and out – of employers “rubber-stamping” a plan document without truly reviewing and approving it. That doesn’t change who is responsible, of course, so the Plan Sponsor could be severely handicapping itself and violating its considerable fiduciary duties to ensure that its plan documents are up to snuff.

A best practice is for TPAs and brokers to ensure that the Plan Sponsor is given an opportunity to truly review and consent to the terms of its plan document. Employers love having the hard parts of self-funding done for them – but TPAs and brokers need to protect themselves!

We also recommend making sure that a TPA’s Administrative Services Agreement holds the TPA harmless in the event the plan document is somehow noncompliant or incorrect, regardless of who has drafted it, since it is the Plan Sponsor’s ultimate responsibility to approve it.


Success Story of the Quarter: Egregious Billing

A TPA with which The Phia Group works closely has a benefit plan client that incurred an $860,000 NICU claim. Luckily, this particular client happened to be utilizing The Phia Group’s Phia Unwrapped service. Accordingly, when the claim was incurred, it was repriced based on a percentage of Medicare chosen by the Plan, and paid accordingly, at the Plan’s Maximum Allowable Charge.

A few months later, the provider sent a balance-bill to the member, attempting to force the member to pay the entire balance of the claim. The Phia Group became involved, and after a lengthy negotiation process, The Phia Group was able to get the balance settled for 17% of the amount the hospital originally demanded from the patient. The utilization of the Phia Unwrapped service saved this health plan over half a million dollars – and what’s more, the wrap network (which the Plan abandoned in favor of utilizing Phia Unwrapped) would have afforded the Plan a contractual 22% discount.

The result? Phia Unwrapped netted the Plan savings of over $400,000 above and beyond its previous wrap network – and the patient is fully protected from balance-billing via the settlement agreement.



Phia Fit to Print:

• Money Inc. – State Reactions and their Power over Association Health Plans – June 30, 2018

• Self-Insurers Publishing Corp. – Conflicting Policies and Courts: When Plan Language Creates More Litigation than Coverage – June 1, 2018

• Self-Insurers Publishing Corp. – The Practical Impact of Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Tex., Inc. on ERISA Denials of Benefits – May 8, 2018

• Money Inc. – The Rising Cost of Cost Containment – May 5, 2018

• Money Inc. – Freedom Blue: Why the Trump Administration Picked Obamacare over Idaho – April 2, 2018

• Self-Insurers Publishing Corp. – Drowning in A Sea of Paper – April 1, 2018

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From the Blogosphere:

The Tangled Web of Eligibility. Eligibility issues are typically very fact specific. Do you know the facts?

The Complications Surrounding Intermittent FMLA Leave! Allow us to uncomplicated intermittent FMLA Leave for you.

Bridging the Gaps Between...Everything! It’s very important that you avoid all gaps, and here’s why.

An Addiction to Health Insurance. For too long insurance has been treated as a shield, blinding people from the cost of their care.


To stay up to date on other industry news, please visit our blog.

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Click HERE to Register!

• On June 21, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “Final Rule on Association Health Plans and YOU: Phia's Take,” where we discussed the final rule and explain the significant impact it is expected to have on the self-funded industry.

• On June 12, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “The Buck Stops…Where? Pointing Fingers in the Self-Funded Industry,” where we discussed why it’s in everyone’s best interests to work together to overcome issues rather than point fingers.

• On May 15, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “The Case for Collusion: How the Power Players May Have Defrauded Us All,” where we discussed the ways in which our industry can fight back and tackle the underlying problem of specialty drug prices.

• On April 19, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “4 Horsemen of the Plan-pocalypse,” where we discussed four issues that may not presently be keeping you up at night, but will certainly be disturbing your slumber very soon.

Be sure to check out all of our past webinars!

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Podcasts:Now Introducing Video Podcasts!

• On June 29, 2018, The Phia Group presented its first video podcast, “You’ve Gotta Fight, For Your Right, to Try,” where the team addresses the recently passed Right To Try Laws, and dissect the impact it may have – if any – on your health benefit plans.

• On June 22, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “Super-Empowerment,” where our hosts chat with none other than Brooks Goodison, President & Principal Partner at Diversified Group.

• On June 12, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “The Phia Group “MVP” Post-Mortem,” where our hosts discuss the recently concluded Phia Group Most-Valuable-Partners or “MVP” forum; an event that took place June 4th to the 6th at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots..

• On June 1, 2018, The Phia Group presented, “Empowering Plans: P43 - A Debrief of SIIA’s Fly-In on the Hill,” where Adam, Ron, and Brady discuss their trip to Washington, D.C. in which they took part in SIIA’s “Fly-In” event, where SIIA members met with their elected representatives to discuss self-insurance/captive insurance issues.

• On May 29, 2018, The Phia Group presented “Eliminating the Noise,” where Adam, Ron, and Brady interview David Contorno, President of Lake Normal Benefits.

• On May 24, 2018, The Phia Group presented “The Case for Collusion (Continued),” where The Phia Group’s Sr. VP, Ron E. Peck, and healthcare attorney Brady C. Bizarro as they answer the questions that you asked during our webinar on PBMs, specialty drug prices, and lawsuits alleging fraud.

• On May 17, 2018, The Phia Group presented “RBP - Yeah, You Know Me,” where The Phia Group chats once again with one of their Partners in Empowerment, Gregory S. Everett, President and CEO of Payer Compass.

• On May 7, 2018, The Phia Group presented “Everything's Bigger In Texas,” where our hosts interview Third Party Administrator, visionary, and industry expert – Caprock Healthplans’ own Executive Vice President, John Farnsley

• On April 24, 2018, The Phia Group presented “A Labor of Love,” where Adam, Ron, and Brady interview in-house specialist, VP of Consulting Attorney Jennifer McCormick, and discuss the many complicated issues surrounding surrogacy, and the costs for which benefit plans may be responsible.

• On April 18 2018, The Phia Group presented “Arresting the Financial Serial Killers,” where Adam and Ron interview the industry, and nationally, renowned Dr. Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma.

• On April 9, 2018, The Phia Group presented “New Kids on the Block,” where Adam, Ron and Brady interview one member of our industry’s too-small youth movement, Brian Olsen.

• On April 4, 2018, The Phia Group presented “Direct Primary Care – The Pot of Gold You’re Looking For,” where the Phia team interviews Doctor Jeff Gold of Gold Direct Care.

Be sure to check out all of our latest podcasts!


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The Phia Group’s 2018 Charity

At The Phia Group, we value our community and everyone in it. As we grow and shape our company, we hope to do the same for the people around us.

The Phia Group's 2018 charity is the Boys & Girls Club of Brockton.

The mission of The Boys & Girls Club is to nurture strong minds, healthy bodies, and community spirit through youth-driven quality programming in a safe and fun environment.

The Boys & Girls Club of Brockton (BGCB) was founded in 1990 to create a positive place for the youth of Brockton, Massachusetts. It immediately met a need in the community; in the first year alone, 500 youths, ages 8-18, signed up as club members. In the 25 years since, the club has expanded its scope exponentially by offering a mix of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) nationally developed programs and activities unique to this club.

Since their founding, more than 20,000 Brockton youth have been welcomed through their doors. Currently, they serve more than 1,000 boys and girls ages 5-18 annually through academic year and summertime programming.


On Wednesday, April 24, 2018, The Phia Group announced The Boys & Girls Club of Brockton's Youth of the Year! The Youth of the Year was given a check for $2,500, as well as a new Dell laptop! So many congratulations to Adande Bien-Aime, you have embodied what a true role model should be for the youth of America.




At the 2018 MVP Phia Forum we held a silent auction of which all proceeds were donated to The Boys and Girls Club! The auction was a hit and we cannot thank all those who donated enough for their generosity in supporting such a wonderful organization. In addition to bids on great items like a signed Tom Brady jersey, a signed Lionel Messi jersey, and more, we received many kind donations after the event. We love The Boys and Girls Club and everything they stand for, we could not have wished for a better event to support an amazing organization!

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The Stacks

Conflicting Policies and Courts: When Plan Language Creates More Litigation than Coverage

By: Catherine Dowie, Esq. – June 2018- Self-Insurers Publishing Corp.

Mostly, working on any given subrogation file for a private, self-funded benefit plan is all about the hurry up and wait. Hurrying to communicate with the injured party, their attorney, the adjusters, investigators, and making sure everyone knows about the plan’s involvement and rights. Then waiting for the completion of treatment, the compilation of damages and some initial negotiations before racing to remind everyone of those rights, and potentially racing to the courthouse to make sure those rights are preserved. As the Supreme Court reminded us in Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, timing is everything. 136 S. Ct. 651 (2016).

Click here to read the rest of this article

The Practical Impact of Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Tex., Inc. on ERISA Denials of Benefits

By: Patrick Ouellette, Esq. – May 2018 – Self-Insurers Publishing Corp.

The abuse of discretion standard has long been a proverbial ace in the hole for self-funded employee benefit plan administrators in making factual determinations that, while perhaps not popular with the participant, they believed were consistent with the terms of the plan document. While the recent Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Tex., Inc. is noteworthy for many reasons, the most immediate effect will be on the Fifth Circuit’s allowance of plan administrator discretion in making factual determinations.

Click here to read the rest of this article.


Drowning in A Sea of Paper

By: Tim Callender, Esq. – April 2018 - Self-Insurers Publishing Corp.

The challenges of setting up and administering an employer-sponsored, self-funded health plan are many. One of the largest challenges a self-funded plan sponsor faces is reconciling the vast number of documents that make a self-funded health plan “go.”

When navigated correctly, these challenges yield immense results in terms of rich benefit delivery within a fiscally responsible health plan mechanism. Still, challenges remain and should be discussed openly so that we can continue to grow and strengthen our industry.

Click here to read the rest of this article.


To stay up to date on other industry news, please visit our blog.

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Phia’s 2018 Speaking Events:

Phia’s Speaking Engagements:

Adam Russo’s 2018 Speaking Engagements:

  • 1/23/18 – Q4 Intelligence Conference – Tampa, FL
  • 2/2/2018 – Benefit Intelligence School District Conference – Phoenix, AZ
  • 3/7/2018 – SIIA Self-Insured Health Plan Executive Forum – Charleston, NC
  • 3/9/2018 – CGI Business Solutions Seminar – Manchester, NH
  • 3/14/2018 – Pareto StructuRE Meeting – Park City, UT
  • 4/12/2018 – Caprock Health Care Forum – Dallas, TX
  • 4/25/2018 – Berkley Captive Symposium – Grand Cayman Islands
  • 4/26/2018 – Innovative Risk – Grand Cayman Islands
  • 4/30/2018 – World Health Care Congress – Washington, DC
  • 5/17/2018 – Prairie States Broker Event – Chicago, IL
  • 6/21/2018 – GBSI Conference – Springfield, MO
  • 6/26/2018 – Leavitt Annual Event – Big Sky, MT
  • 8/24/2018 – WellHealth Workshop – Berkley Captive Program – Itasca, IL
  • 8/29/2018 – Gus Bates Insurance – Fort Worth, TX
  • 9/24/2018 – SIIA’s Annual National Educational Conference & Expo – Austin, TX

Ron Peck’s 2018 Speaking Engagements:

  • 1/25/2018 – HealthFirst TPA Client Conference – Tyler, TX
  • 3/6/2018 – SIIA National Conference – Charleston, SC
  • 3/7/2018 – CGI Business Solutions Seminar – Manchester, NH
  • 3/23/18 – Health Rosetta - Module 5: Next-Gen Plan Design – Boston, MA

Tim Callender’s 2018 Speaking Engagements:

  • 2/14/2018 – BevCap Captive Group, 10th Anniversary Meeting – Kona, HI
  • 4/25/2018 – Cypress University – Las Vegas, NV
  • 5/7/2018 – UBA Spring Conference – Chicago, IL
  • 5/16/2018 – Sun Life MVP Forum – Kansas City, KS
  • 5/24/2018 – Pareto Captive Services, Contrarian Re Captive Meeting – Nashville, TN
  • 6/25/2018 – Leavitt Conference – Big Sky, MT
  • 7/17/2018 – HCAA TPA Summit – Minneapolis, MN

Jen McCormick’s 2018 Speaking Engagements:

  • 4/17/2018 – Texas Association of Benefit Advisors – Dallas, TX
  • 5/16/2018 – IOA RE – Indianapolis, IN




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Get to Know Our Employee of the Quarter:
Ulyana Bevilacqua

Congratulations to Ulyana Bevilacqua, The Phia Group’s Q2 2018 Employee of the Quarter!

Ulyana maintains great client relationships because clients can trust her to send their requests on time and that the deliverable will always contain quality work. She remains professional in her correspondence and makes sure everything is done accurately. She also puts in extra hours to ensure organization with all client requests. This reflects positively on The Phia Group because it sends a message to our clients of our professionalism and how much we care.



Congratulations Ulyana and thank you for your many current and future contributions.


Phia News

World Congress 2018 Health Value Awards

On April 29, 2018, more than 350 nominees competed in the World Congress 2018 Health Value Awards to be the best and brightest applications to improve health outcomes, reduce costs and implement innovative health industry practices. The Phia Group is excited to announce we have placed Diamond in the Small Group Employer category and our co-founder and CEO, Adam Russo, has placed Silver in the Outstanding Benefits Provider category!


Phia Certification has Arrived!

We are pleased to announce our new internal Phia Certification Program. The Phia Group maintains lofty standards for the industry, and expects the same of our staff. Phia has always developed and implemented best-in-class training programs, keeping our employees up to date and comprehensively educated. As a result, our team is second to none in that regard… and today we are excited to announce a new way to show it. Phia has established its new Phia Certification Program for its employees; this internal program consists of 3 levels, each level testing an even higher caliber of industry expertise than the last.

By the end of 2018 all Phia employees, from our interns to our attorneys, will be Level 1 certified. For leaders and those seeking to take it to the next level, Level 2 of the Phia Certification Program is made available. Finally, for those who dare to dream – Level 3 is indicative of being “the best of the best” – capable of addressing any and all issues impacting our industry, as well as being able to predict the issues headed our way. Our Phia Certification Program will ensure that a consistent knowledge base and industry expertise is embedded in the entirety of our staff, providing you with the best service our industry has to offer.



The Phia Group Recognizes Diversified Group with 2018 Empowered Plan Award

At our annual MVP (Most Valuable Partners) event, we were pleased to recognize this year’s winner of The Phia Group “Trophy of Empowerment.” It is with appreciation that we publically announce the name of our 2018 Empowered Plan Award winner, Diversified Group.

After analyzing all of our MVPs based on a number of parameters including, but not limited to, collaboration with The Phia Group, a willingness to innovate, as well as application of a forward thinking methodology – reflected through efforts taken to secure the future of our industry – Diversified Group of Marlborough, CT – was a clear winner.



New Client Account Manager – Matthew Painten

As you may know, Matthew Painten has recently been promoted to Client Account Manager at The Phia Group, in addition to his Marketing Management role. Although you may already have a direct point of contact at Phia, please feel free to start communicating with Matthew directly for any and all of your requests. You may email him personally at or send an email to



Job Opportunities:

  • ETL Specialist
  • IT Systems Administrator
  • Health Benefit Plan Drafting Consultant
  • Claims Specialist, Provider Relations

See the latest job opportunities, here:



  • Matthew Painten was promoted from Marketing Coordinator to Marketing & Accounts Manager
  • Hannah Sedman was promoted from Marketing Intern to Marketing & Accounts Coordinator
  • Garrick Hunt was promoted from Sales Executive to Sales Manager
  • Jacob Falkof was promoted from Customer Service Representative to Case Investigator
  • Nick O’Neill was promoted from Case Analyst to Legal Assistant

New Hires

  • Dakota Bagley was hired as an IT Intern                                           
  • Holly Blackstead was hired as a Marketing Intern
  • Andrew Modelane was hired as a Training Intern
  • Colleen Ahern was hired as a Case Investigator
  • Bethany LaChance was hired as a Recovery Intern
  • Alanah Lopes was hired as a Sales Intern
  • Philip Qualo was hired as an HR Compliance Specialist
  • Gambit Hunt was hired as a Sales & Accounts Coordinator


Fun at Phia:

The Phia Family is one good-looking group of wiffle-ballers! Our wiffle ball team entered the 7th annual John Waldron Memorial Wiffle Ball Tournament, where we were one game away from entering the semi-finals. We were up against some fierce competition, including some courageous Brockton Fire Fighters, that most certainly brought the heat. This tournament raised over $20,000! We are proud of the work our team did and can’t wait to play again next year.



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