Crain's Detroit: Group Associates + Maestro Health

...Last July, Zick sold Group Associates to Maestro Health and is the technology solutions subsidiary to the Chicago-based health and benefits administration manager.

Maestro Health now offers integrated benefit administration that includes a private exchange, enrollment services, self-funded insurance, health savings accounts and consolidated billing. 

"I was not planning to sell the company," said Zick. "I just did not want to have the conflict between consulting and brokerage. We couldn't do both anymore." 

To get advice, Zick went to Chicago-based Gruppo Marcucci, a consulting firm specializing in human resources and benefits administration technology. Maestro Health earlier had employed Gruppo to search for a benefit administrator to acquire.

Sometime afterward, Gruppo Marcucci executives suggested that Rob Butler, CEO of Maestro, talk with Zick. 

"Rob called me (in March 2015), and we talked a few times and came (to Detroit) for dinner," Zick said. "I showed him our capabilities at the office, and the next day he gave me a letter of intent. It was an awesome synergistic relationship." 

On July 1, Group Associates joined Maestro Health as a wholly owned subsidiary. 

Zick said Maestro Health brought Group Associates what it needed: a national sales force with connections to major brokers that includes the Willis Group and Gallagher.

"We are doing what we do best, helping employers with benefit technology solutions," Zick said. 

Grathwohl said Gallagher and Maestro Health do about half a million dollars in business together. "This has worked out fine for me," he said. 

Butler said he formed Maestro Health two years ago to take advantage of opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act to expand health benefit options for employers. 

"We offer a one-stop shop that allows employers, brokers and carriers to offer one solution," said Butler, noting that the acquisition of Group Associates was important to that vision. 

Maestro Health's four primary product lines are private health insurance exchange, benefit administration, human resources management and consumer accounts, which include health savings accounts and self-funded insurance programs. 

Last November, Maestro Health signed a contract to become the exclusive private exchange provider with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

"This is technology meets services, a nice connection to offer employers," Butler said. 

Zick said Maestro Health has enabled Group Associates to invest in more technology, hire staff and expand its information technology services. Group Associates has about 60 employees in Michigan and expects to hire more this year. 

"Since July, we have written 150 accounts with Affordable Care Act (employee health benefit) reporting," which includes 1095C form filings for all covered employees that proves coverage through the employer and the cost-sharing amounts, said Zick, noting his company was one of the first to be certified by the IRS.

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