Custom Design Benefits Announces Changes – True Cost Product Gains Momentum

mueller Julie Mueller

Munninghoff said his accounting firm’s experience with TrueCost influenced his decision to invest in Custom Design Benefits.

An exclusive new product called TrueCost, a reference-based pricing solution for firms with as few as 50 employees was developed by Custom Design Benefits in 2012, TrueCost eliminates deductibles and co-insurance and reimburses all medical providers based on Medicare plus a bonus.

Huge Cincinnati benefits firm names new CEO

Jan 5, 2016, 12:01pm ESTBottom of Form

Barrett J. Brunsman Staff reporterCincinnati Business Courier

Custom Design Benefits, one of the largest administrators of employee benefits in Greater Cincinnati, has reorganized ownership and named Julie Mueller CEO.

She succeeds Steven Chapel, who had been chief executive before retiring Dec. 31.

CUSTOM DESIGN BENEFITS

Mueller and Chapel had co-owned the Green Township firm, which is also known as CDB. It administers self-funded health plans for about 100 local employers and has another 350 clients in its consumer-driven services division, which includes benefits such as flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements.

Mueller joined CDB as president in 2003. Chapel had bought the privately held company from the founders, who established Custom Design Benefits in 1991.

The new ownership includes Mueller and a group of local investors organized by Thomas Munninghoff, a lawyer who co-founded the Covington-based CPA firm Munninghoff, Lange & Co.

Mueller said the new ownership includes three families who own several local businesses. Munninghoff’s business and those of the other investors were customers of Custom Design Benefits before investing in the company, she said.

The company has reorganized as Custom Design Benefits LLC rather than Custom Design Benefits Inc. The first board meeting will be Jan. 28, with the five seats occupied by Mueller, Munninghoff and three other representatives of the new investors. Mueller and Munninghoff will be co-chairs.

Custom Design Benefits has 58 employees, but about 10 more jobs are expected to be created in the second half of this year, Mueller told me. The new positions will primarily be in account management and customer service.

The company, which is the fifth-largest employee benefits firm in Greater Cincinnati, has room to grow at its current headquarters, Mueller said. Custom Design Benefits leases about 15,000 square feet and is the main tenant in a building at 5589 Cheviot Road.

CDB boosted the number of self-funded health plans it administers from about 85 to 100 local employers in the last year, Mueller said. She attributed that to the popularity of an exclusive new product called TrueCost, a reference-based pricing solution for firms with as few as 50 employees. Introduced in 2012, TrueCost eliminates deductibles and co-insurance and reimburses all medical providers based on Medicare plus a bonus.

Munninghoff said his accounting firm’s experience with TrueCost influenced his decision to invest in Custom Design Benefits.

“Our experience with TrueCost has been so positive that I wanted to share it with my fellow business owners in the area,” Munninghoff said. “It was not difficult to organize a small group of local business owners to create a new ownership team with Julie.”

I reported in February that Christ Hospital had negotiated a contract with Custom Design Benefits that could lower some surgical costs for dozens of local companies that self-fund health plans.

The smallest customer of Custom Design Benefits on the self-funded side has 20 employees. The average size of a client is about 200 employees, but CDB administers benefits for companies with up to 10,000 employees, Mueller said.

“We’re getting national recognition, and I think we’re trying to do a better job of making people aware we’re there,” Mueller said. “We are really known for our customer service, and in health care you don’t see a whole lot of that. If you’re going to be self-funded, and more and more employers are (as a result of the Affordable Care Act), you’re going to want to look at the service level of the administrator.”

Brunsman covers Procter & Gamble Co. and health care

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