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POMCO trains 65 new employees to service CO-OP plan

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

SYRACUSE — POMCO Group, a Syracuse–based third-party administrator of self-funded health-care and risk-management plans, has added 65 new employees at its corporate headquarters as it administers a new plan offered through the Affordable Care Act.

“The 65 … are hired. They are in training and they’ll be working within weeks,” says Donald Napier, senior executive vice president at POMCO Group.

Napier spoke with the Business Journal News Network on July 17 at POMCO’s headquarters at 2425 James Street in the Eastwood section of Syracuse.

The employee growth is to accommodate the “continual rapid growth of the company’s plan membership” due to the impact of Health Republic Insurance of New York (HRINY), the Affordable Care Act’s consumer operated and oriented plan (CO-OP), according to POMCO.

CO-OPs are private, member-governed, health-insurance companies that are forming nationwide as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services used $174 million in no-interest and low-interest loans to launch the New York CO-OP. The Brooklyn–based Freelancers Union, a national nonprofit organization that serves independent workers and has 170,000 members, is sponsoring the CO-OP.

Freelancers Union was also responsible for choosing POMCO to administer the CO-OP’s benefits.

Health Republic Insurance of New York is one of 23 CO-OPs nationally and offers health benefits for both individuals and small businesses, POMCO said.

POMCO Group partnered with HRINY at the start of 2014 to serve as its claims administrator, customer-service call center, and medical-management provider.

The HRINY plans are not part of the self-funded plans that POMCO Group is also known for administering.

“[Those plans] are an insurance product but, because we’re an administrator, we administer for them,” says Napier.

POMCO Group manages HRINY as if it was a “large, self-funded employer,” he adds.

POMCO Group’s partnership with HRINY is the “largest factor” behind the firm’s need to recruit additional people, the firm said.

Upon the completion of its July training class, POMCO Group will have hired 157 new employees since the beginning of 2013, bringing the company’s total staff to 610, it said.

It also cited the “organic” growth of its benefits administration and risk-management services, along with the expansion of its services into Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and California as reasons for adding employees.

Most of the new hires at POMCO will work in the Syracuse headquarters with the capabilities of serving clients in California from the local office.

“Our technology allows people to be pretty much anywhere,” says Napier.

Enrollment in the CO-OP has “vastly exceeded all expectations,” which has provided POMCO Group with a chance to expand the team that focuses on HRINY with additional “highly trained” customer service and claims specialists, the firm said.

“Our partnership with Health Republic Insurance of New York has not only allowed us to assist underserved members across the state of New York with their health-coverage needs, it has also given us an opportunity to bring more employment opportunities to Syracuse,” Bob Pomfrey, president and CEO of POMCO Group, said in a July 1 news release.

Expansion
A recent expansion of POMCO Group’s headquarters at 2425 James St. provided the “necessary space” for the new employees, the company said.

However, in order to accommodate this latest staff expansion, POMCO Group is looking at possible new options for both training and future worksite locations.

“We are currently out … in the market looking at different places. It’s one of those where we need to balance that against what our future growth is looking like,” says Napier.

When asked if POMCO Group anticipates additional hiring in 2014, Napier says the firm could add and 60 or 70 people in the fall.

This current round of hiring is the third “large-scale” recruitment effort that POMCO Group has conducted in the past year, the company said.

In the fall of 2013, the benefits administrator hired more than 40 customer service and claims associates in its Syracuse headquarters.

Six months later, POMCO recruited, trained, and added another 55 customer service and claims specialists.

In total, the staffing increases over the past year represent the “largest period of growth” in the firm’s 35 year history, POMCO Group said in its release.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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