Styf leaves to join WellStar, Piedmont venture
by Rachel Miller
July 01, 2013 12:00 AM | 1436 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA - WellStar Health System and Piedmont Healthcare have partnered to offer their own insurance plan, and community leader Dan Styf of east Cobb has been named the No. 2 person to build and run that corporation.

Called the Piedmont WellStar Health Plan, the new corporation - which will be run out of Vinings - launches in January 2014.

"The opportunity to improve the care of that many people is humbling and impossible to pass up," Styf said.

Styf left his job as a vice president with Kaiser Permanente to accept the new position. Styf also serves as a co-chair for Cobb's Competitive EDGE, the county's economic development program and is vice chair for economic development on the Cobb Chamber's Executive Committee.

Available to the general public, Piedmont WellStar Health Plan's coverage will include Medicare Advantage plans, as well as HMOs and PPOs. WellStar and Piedmont employees will have access to buy into the insurance, but Medicaid recipients are prohibited by state law, Styf said.

Booting the middle man, Piedmont and WellStar chose to offer their own health insurance plan through the subsidiary as a way of reducing costs by cutting out the middle man. "If you're a small employer in Marietta, and you want to buy health care coverage for your employees, why not go straight to the health care system that's going to deliver it?" Styf said. "Why do you need a middle man in the middle of that?" Leaders of WellStar and Piedmont systems saw a large wave building from increasing medical costs, especially with the rising number of people reaching the age to qualify for Medicare.

"These two organizations realize they can improve health care faster by working together rather than competing in the market place," Styf said.

From a business perspective, Styf said billing is the biggest expense for providing medical insurance. The best way to make health care more affordable, Styf said, is to put every aspect in the same system, which for WellStar and Piedmont is a large network.

"When a delivery system has its own health plan they do not need to bill themselves," he said. WellStar Health System CEO Reynold Jennings said he was pleased that Styf had joined "our team."

"His leadership expertise from Kaiser, who has been involved with clinical integration for decades, combined with his proven community involvement fits very well within our system," Jennings said. Call the doctor Styf said under the Piedmont WellStar Health Plan, doctors will play a larger role in patient care, compared to independent insurance companies that can deny treatments based on cost. It is more about working together than seeking permission, he said. Styf said a key to making the new insurance plan a success is that its CEO is Ronnie Brownsworth, M.D., the CEO of the Piedmont Clinic. "I think having a doctor with an M.D. after his name speaks to what, as an organization, we are all about," he said. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., Styf, 38, moved to Cobb County in 2008 with his wife, Sarah, after years in Detroit and Washington D.C. "Our community means an awful lot to me, and I've invested a lot of myself and my personal time in trying to make this community better, and these two delivery systems care for so many people in our communities, it's a chance to have a really broad influence," Styf said of his new role. "In every business, probably the biggest barrier to our economy growing in my own personal mind right now is solving the affordability and quality problem in health care, and this is a great chance to be part of that." Marietta-based WellStar and Atlanta-based Piedmont serve a population of more than three million. The two health care systems have a combined 2,393 hospital beds, 10 hospitals, seven urgent care centers and more than 700 physicians in the Piedmont Physicians Group, Piedmont Heart Institute, and the WellStar Medical Group.

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