Per court records, Infirmary Health Systems recently acquired a total of 43 acres encompassing former USA Knollwood Hospital/Infirmary West buildings in WeMo and situated on Girby Road. The total purchase price was $5 million. The hospital and office space cover a total of 307,000-square-feet and sections of the acreage are anticipated to be sold off down the road by Infirmary Health Systems. Surety Land Title managed the deal.

Plantation Square, a 12,000-square-foot shopping center located due north of the intersection of Carol Plantation Road and near Mobile Greyhound Park on Old Pascagoula Road, recently sold to local speculators for about $663,000. Ralph Neal of Watson Realty represented the purchasers. Terry McKinney of Delaney Land & Title worked for the seller.

Half Shell Oyster House leased a 6,000 square-foot space at the former West Marine location on Airport Boulevard and I-65 in Mobile. Half Shell Oyster House currently has four locations in Mississippi and one in Florida. The new restaurant is slated to open March, 2014. Robert Cook, CCIM, with Vallas Realty represented the tenant. Jay Roberds with NAI-Mobile worked for the landlord.

The Private Exchange Option

Private healthcare exchanges are hardly new. In many segments including the broker arena (group enrollment and the individual market) they’ve been common for years. Due to the recent rollout of Obamacare mandates, however, understanding the concept behind private exchanges is now an unquestionably hot topic according to Dennis Mayfield, CEO of Mayfield & Associates.

“Many health plans see private exchanges mainly as a defensive play related to the Affordable Care Act; as a way to keep small-group employers from sending their employees to the public exchanges by offering similar levels of savings. Private exchanges can offer a smooth path to a defined-contribution benefit model, and possibly a better individual experience,” Mayfield said.

“That concept is not wrong, but it misses the bigger picture. Exchanges are going to be a significant part of the healthcare model going forward because they are an adaptable way of meeting a variety of employer needs. Third-party exchanges run by consultants and others will be a significant distribution channel — and potential competitor — for the individual consumer’s dollar,” Mayfield continued.

Private exchanges will offer an opportunity to create products closely matched to a full range of employer and employee needs, not just lower costs, he said. In this view, the ACA could even be considered a sideshow.

For many employers, the appeal is not just lower prices, but predictable expenses made possible by shifting to a defined-contribution benefit plan. In addition, employees value the choice and transparency of private exchanges.

When considering the recent media report of costs for local BCBS Plans in Alabama doubling — blindsiding many an individual or family — the idea of investigating other options for health insurance is understandable.

“When provided the option, many studies indicate that over 80 percent of employees will choose a plan less rich than what employers picked — indicative of how badly employers have historically misread what employees really want,” Mayfield said.

Finally, though some private exchanges will offer bare-bones coverage, the expectation is that many will concentrate on creating a satisfying customer experience for employees. If employees enjoy the private exchange experience, see the value in the offering and feel there’s a good menu of choices, they could end up having not just a new delivery system for health coverage, but a potentially positive attitude towards them.

Some employers, especially those under the greatest economic stress, may look at private exchanges primarily as a way to transition to a defined contribution plan and simply reduce cost. Others might be using it as a pathway to define the benefits, giving employers the option to “dial up” or “dial down” funding depending on business economics, the need to retain talent, and to maintain a generally competitive environment.

Still other employers will go on paying for employee coverage as before but use the private exchange as a way to empower employees to choose plans that suit their specific needs.

Risk Management is critical moving forward and private exchanges offer a distribution system that may make sense for employers. As such, it will be a critical to establish a top notch education, acquisition, retention and reward platform internally that should be an integral part of understanding new look benefit plans, according to Mayfield.

“The goal should not be to simply offer a superficial choice to employees but instead use the 2014 reform as a tool to get closer to an employee’s real needs. Ultimately, the endgame is keeping employees healthier at lower costs and demonstrate real value via the private exchange in the volatile years ahead,” Mayfield said.     

MAAR Realtors honored

Libba Latham of LLB&B Real Estate, Kelly Cummings with the Cummings Company LLC. and Joshua Tanner of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Generations of Mobile were recently honored by The Alabama Association of REALTORS (AAR).

All three are graduates of the Leadership AAR Class of 2013 and were fêted at the AAR Annual Convention Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday, Oct.1. The event was held at the brand new Music City Center Convention facility in downtown Nashville.

The Leadership AAR Program consists of four retreats held throughout the state of Alabama. The program identifies realtors who have demonstrated leadership potential through job-related and community activities and trains participants by developing leadership skills.

The program’s stated goal is to help create a network of leaders across the state actively involved in improving local and state associations by keeping the focus on professionalism. There are now a total of 138 alumni participants who have completed the Leadership AAR Program since its inception in 2002.