Harris Rosen has spent his entire adult life fighting what are perceived to be establishment norms and the status quo. In a way, Rosen, president and COO of Orlando-based Rosen Hotels & Resorts, is a more successful version of the Tom Joad character in John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Grapes of Wrath.’’
“Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there,’’ Joad says.
That’s Harris Rosen, whose philanthropic efforts stretch from Orlando’s once-neglected Tangelo Park neighborhood to building schools in Haiti to establishing the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
“We’ve been involved in so many wonderful initiatives,’’ said Rosen, who helped create the first hotels and resorts at Walt Disney World in Orlando before founding his own company in 1974. “We’re proud of all the things we do. We’re doing better than we ever imagined. It’s very gratifying offering a helping hand to those in need.’’
A prime example of that is aimed at the 5,700 employees at the Rosen Hotels & Resorts, which comprises nine properties in the Orlando area, including Rosen Shingle Creek. Rosen Care is now in its 26th year as the company’s self-sustained employee/family healthcare program that could serve as a model for company healthcare nationally.
RosenCare, according to its namesake, costs the majority of its single hourly associates an average of $850 per year; the cost for the majority of its participating families is approximately $2,500 per year. Each is well below the respective national averages.
The costs to his company, Rosen said, is approximately $5,500 per covered life compared to an annual cost of approximately $11,000 to $12,000 per covered life nationally. This lower cost per covered life has enabled his company to save more than $315 million over the past 25-plus years.
But most important, Rosen said, is the impact Rosen Care has had on company employees and their families.
“It sends a signal—loud and clear—that we are really a family,’’ Rosen said. “We really care for each other and are trying to do the best we can. Healthcare is a very important part of people’s lives. To make it affordable and accessible is something our associates really appreciate.’’
The concept for Rosen Care was born when, not surprisingly, Harris Rosen was told he couldn’t do something.
“We had the typical third-party insurance entity managing our healthcare component,’’ Rosen said. “We had a very good year (26 years ago) and anticipated our premiums would remain the same. But they increased dramatically, we were told, because of the ‘group’ we were in.
I said, ‘we don’t want to be in a group, just look at us individually.’ I was told that’s not possible.’’
Rosen set out to prove it is possible. He created a healthcare office at his Quality Inn International hotel. (The hotel is now called the Rosen Inn International; the same hotel where he has had his office since he started 43 years ago). He subsequently hired a physician, nurses and an administrator to staff it.
“People thought we were crazy,” Rosen said with a chuckle.
That office has grown into the Rosen Medical Center, a 12,000 square-foot facility that includes four full-time doctors, three nurse practitioners, one physician assistant, one social worker and one chiropractor. A dietician, a physical therapist, a podiatrist and other contracted specialists support the center. Rosen Care offers company employees and their families low premiums, no deductibles, minimal co-payments for office visits and free or low co-pay prescriptions. A partnership with Walmart allows employees to obtain free generic prescriptions. Most specialty prescriptions don’t cost more than $25 each.
“Quite a few businesses over the past 10 years have built on-site clinics or nearby clinics,’’ said Ashley Bacot, president of ProvInsure, Inc, Rosen Care’s insurance partner. “But most aren’t fully integrated like ours. Ours is a patient-centered medical home, which means the primary care doctor coordinates all care with a specialist. And the family member is not as well taken care of as they are here.’’
The “perfect template,” is what Kenneth A. Aldridge Jr., director of health services at Rosen Medical Center, calls Rosen Care.
“We focus on four things: access, service, quality and cost. If people don’t have access, the other things don’t matter. With Rosen Care, we’ve been giving people access since Day One. We control our program. We’re able to control costs because of the way we control our own healthcare system.’’