Sarah Lawrence College Tackles Rising Faculty Healthcare Costs - Becomes First New York Institution to Join edHEALTH’s Purchasing Collaborative

Jan 21
Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence College

By CYNTHIA McGRATH | January 21, 2020

Yonkers, NY Sarah Lawrence College is taking a new and innovative approach to controlling rising faculty and staff healthcare costs: joining edHEALTH, a member-owned healthcare collaborative of 22 colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. Sarah Lawrence is the first member from the State of New York.

As healthcare costs continue to rise as a percentage of operating budgets for higher education institutions across the country, Sarah Lawrence will be able to continue to provide high quality health insurance for its faculty and staff by leveraging the larger group’s purchasing power, and avoid costly year-to-year changes. In fact, by joining edHEALTH on January 1, 2020, Sarah Lawrence averted a potential double-digit healthcare cost increase and will be able to better predict and plan for future rate changes.

In addition to Sarah Lawrence, Dean College of Franklin, Massachusetts, also joined the consortium at the beginning of the calendar year.

“Like most employers, we’ve faced the realities of rising healthcare costs, which have been a shared burden for both the College and its employees,” said Danielle Coscia, Sarah Lawrence’s associate vice president for human resources. “Joining the edHEALTH captive is a strategic move and creative solution that provides the opportunity for ownership and collaboration. Instead of year to year tweaks to our plan designs, we have entered into a sustainable partnership that pools purchasing power and allows us to continue to offer quality benefits while mitigating rising costs for both the College and its faculty and staff.”

Since its establishment in 2013, with six original members, edHEALTH has delivered robust savings and cost predictability, and is poised for continued growth after partnering with a national administrator to allow for organizations from outside the New England region to join. In the past five years, while healthcare rates have increased by an average of 8.1%, edHEALTH members have seen an average five-year increase of 3.5%. Additionally, schools benefit by not paying profits on top of health insurance claims, as is typical with standard fully-insured arrangements. These savings provide member schools’ employees flexibility and stability while simultaneously boosting participating institutions’ bottom line.

“We look for creative solutions for our higher education clients, where faculty and staff healthcare costs typically represent the second or third biggest expense,” said Sheena Tracy, managing director of Risk Strategies, which helps colleges identify opportunities in the insurance and healthcare sector. “The edHEALTH team is enthusiastic and well-versed in the industry. As soon as they established a national provider network option—the Trustmark Health Benefits administrator option—it opened new opportunities for our client, Sarah Lawrence, to join and benefit from the collaborative.”

“We’re thrilled to have Sarah Lawrence join our growing roster of colleges and universities,” said edHEALTH president and CEO, A. Tracy Hassett. “As our first New York school, we were proactive in ensuring a smooth transition for the school and its faculty, staff, and family members.”

“All savings go to participating member schools, including Sarah Lawrence, which is unique to the edHEALTH model,” said Tim Tracy, Jr., another managing director of Risk Strategies. “This enabled Sarah Lawrence to move to a self-insurance arrangement where they have the benefit of data analytics and collaboration with other higher education institutions.”


Sarah Lawrence College

Brendan O’Callaghan, Director of Public Affairs

Sarah Lawrence is a prestigious, coeducational liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the leading liberal arts colleges in the country. Sarah Lawrence is known for its pioneering approach to education, rich history of impassioned intellectual and civic engagement, and vibrant, successful alumni. In close proximity to the unparalleled offerings of New York City, the historic campus is home to an intellectually curious and diverse community.

edHEALTH, established in 2013, provides high quality healthcare options at lower costs to 23 colleges, universities, and secondary school member owners and their faculty, staff, and families. Its guiding principles include savings, ownership, innovation, and transparency.

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