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Insurance Provider Contests Concordia Health Plan

by Archives February 10, 2009

The company that provides Concordia’s student health plan has asked the university administration to take it over from the CSU.
“We feel that we have no other choice,” said Lev Bukhman, executive director of ASEQ. Bukhman called for the administration to take over in a letter addressed to CSU president Keyana Kashfi, and forwarded to Concordia University president Judith Woodsworth and dean of students, Elizabeth Morey.
Bukhman said he believes his company has been fired and replaced. However Elie Chivi, VP communications, said the CSU has not replaced their health plan provider. “In December we hired someone … to go out and look for different health plans for us.” He said the Union had contracted consulting firm, Morneau Sobeco but that “they’re not the CSU’s new broker. They’re not charging us anything, nor is it a multi-year contract, we are just with them because they are researching different plans.”
Morneau Sobeco, along with the National Student Health Alliance, a subsidiary of the Canadian Federation of Students, act as insurance providers at a number of Canadian universities. But Chivi said Morneau Sobeco wouldn’t necessarily recommend their partners. Because a broker is supposed to practice due diligence and go through all the plans that are out there.”
In an official statement from the CSU, Chivi wrote that the decision to change… “came about after it was learned that Mr. Bukhman’s firm had allowed the CSU’s current health plan provider to earn a surplus profit that is potentially in excess of one million dollars over the past three years. Additionally, Concordia students lost out on a savings of nearly $250,000 last year due to the actions of Mr. Bukhman and his firm,” Chivi alleged.
But Bukhman said his company is the provider, “We are the consultant, the broker and the administrator.” Adding that this is “often called the provider . . . any attempt to confuse or deny those roles is . . . misleading.”
ASEQ, and similar companies, are not insurance companies; instead they find and negotiate the actual plan with an insurance company.
He said it’s customary for student unions to use these providers because “health plans and health insurance are quite technical. Moreover there are specialized resources that health plan providers, like ASEQ, bring.”
Chivi maintained no new plan had been signed. “Absolutely not, that has to go to council.”
However in a January interview with The Concordian, Kashfi said she had renegotiated the health plan, and saved students $100,000.
ASEQ’s current contract with the CSU expires in August, and Bukhman said that any replacement of ASEQ, without giving it a chance to bid on a new contract, would be in bad faith.
“Whatever they do in regards to contract is, in our opinion, irrevocable tainted . . . We don’t feel there’s any good faith, in fact we feel that this is the opposite of good faith.”
But Chivi said he thinks Bukhman is motivated by money, the health plan contract is worth $2.9 million.
“I find it really unfortunate that certain people have to stoop to these levels, when seeing that their business may be hurt,” said Chivi. “The CSU is one of Mr. Bukhman’s biggest clients.”
But Buckhman disagrees. “Certainly we value the relationship we’ve had with the CSU for 12 years, the CSU was our first client. The inspiration for ASEQ was a problem the CSU had, in 1996, that they wanted to implement a health plan but did not have the resources to do it.”
University spokesperson Chris Mota said she had not yet seen the letter and could not comment on what, if any action the university would take.
Calls to Keyana Kashfi were not returned by press time.

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