Home News Accusations fly over Concordia’s $2.9 million student health plan

Accusations fly over Concordia’s $2.9 million student health plan

by Archives February 17, 2009

The CSU’s most used service will be getting new management as control of the $2.9 million health plan contract is transferred from insurance broker ASEQ to Morneau Sobeco/National Student Health Network.
While the switch has been in the works for months, it only became public after ASEQ owner Lev Bukhman sent an open letter to CSU president Keyana Kashfi, campus media and university administration. In his letter he alleged the CSU executive had acted in bad faith when replacing him.
This week the CSU shot back, claiming ASEQ had mismanaged the plan and cost students hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But Bukhman said he’s standing by his letter.
“We weren’t asking for special treatment, but at the very least, having being the CSU’s broker for 12 years, we would at least have the opportunity to submit a proposal,” he said. “The essence of our charge is that that has been done without due process and without competing bids from different brokers.”
But CSU VP communications Elie Chivi said a competition process between brokers wasn’t necessary because there are only a few companies that can manage a health plan as large as the CSU’s.
“So far we have been very impressed,” he said. “Morneau is quite an advocate for students, so that kind of helped us go in that direction.”
“Morneau Sobeco is the largest Canadian-owned pension and benefits consulting and outsourcing firm,” according to their corporate webpage.
The company partners with the National Student Health Network, a subsidiary of lobby group the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), to provide student health plans.
Kashfi presented her allegations against ASEQ, in a report to CSU council on Feb. 11. The interim chair of council, Brent Farrington, is also the deputy nation chair of the Canadian Federation of Students.
According to Kashfi, estimates from Morneau Sobeco show the CSU has overpaid Sun Life Financial – who provides the actual insurance – almost $1 million over the past three years.
But former CSU VP finance Fauve Castagna, who worked with the plan, described the characterization as “extremely misleading.”
“If you insure your car, it’s $200 a year and by the end of the year you’ve only claimed $100 on your insurance, is the insurance company going to give you back your $100?
“No, that’s not how the contract functions,” said Castagna. “The current contract is a fully insured model . . . so if we pay $100 and we use $115, the insurance company has to cover it.”
Bukhman also said the analysis is “misleading.”
“What this analysis omits is previous two years when the insurance company lost money on the CSU health plan. They lost many hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
He also said that in the same three-year period he negotiated a cheaper plan each year, with premiums dropping around 12 per cent in 2006-7 and 2007-8 and just over 13 per cent for 2008-9.
Castagna said that when she was VP finance “no one had issues,” with ASEQ.
She said she’s concerned about Morneau Sobeco/National Student Health Networks’ lack of experience in Quebec.
ASEQ is the largest broker of student health plans in Canada, and works at almost every university in Quebec, including McGill, Universite de Montreal, and the University of Quebec system.
Bukhman also said he is still standing behind allegations he made against former CSU VP Steven Rosenshein.
Bukhman said that during the Spring 2007 CSU elections Rosenshein asked him for a $25,000 “campaign donation” to the Unity executive slate. Unity went on to win the elections. Bukhman said he believed Rosenshein was Unity’s “campaign manager.”
But Chivi said Rosenshein only played a small role in the election campaign and that it was mostly limited to taking pictures of councillors.
Rosenshein is a staff member of the Quebec Component of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Calls to Rosenshein were not returned by press time.

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