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SCHAUMBURG, Ill.-A university and an insurance company are joining forces to build a child care center both can use.

Roosevelt University's satellite campus and Zurich-American Insurance Group, situated on adjacent property in Schaumburg, Ill., last month broke ground for a 10,000-square-foot child day and evening care center that will be able to serve up to 124 youngsters from age 6 weeks to 6 years old.

The decision to build the center at the school's suburban Schaumburg campus, which will serve university students and staff as well as Zurich workers, has its roots in a longstanding relationship between the school and its corporate neighbor, said Theodore Gross, Roosevelt president. In 1990, Roosevelt faculty began teaching classes at Zurich in Roosevelt's new Partners In Corporate Education program.

This program was designed to make it easier for Zurich employees to work on their degrees by taking some classes at the worksite.

Zurich's financial contribution to the child care center will amount to more than $1 million, said Mr. Gross. Roosevelt University is donating the land for the center.

"These are two private institutions with no taxpayer subsidy from the state or federal government," Mr. Gross said.

The child care center is scheduled to open in the spring of 1998 and will be built as an addition to a classroom building.

Those who use it will pay a moderate fee, Mr. Gross said. It also will be used as a laboratory for the university's College of Education and psychology department.

Bright Horizons, a national child care management company based in Cambridge, Mass., will run the facility and receive all fees, Mr. Gross said.

Seventy percent of the spaces in the center have been slotted for Zurich and the remainder for school staff and students. It is expected that the center will be used by children of Zurich workers primarily during the day and Roosevelt students and staff at night, because the school mainly offers evening classes.

Dental PPOs gain favor

Taking a new middle ground, employers are gradually adopting more dental preferred provider organizations, although dental indemnity plans and dental health maintenance organizations, are still more prevalent.

Over the past two years, the number of plan sponsors that have moved to dental PPOs, which offer an optional list of approved dentists for discounted service, has risen between 4% and 5%, according to Cor van der Wal, a principal in the San Jose, Calif., office of benefit consulting firm William M. Mercer Inc.

Mr. van der Wal, Mercer's national director of dental consulting, found in a survey of 482 employers that some employers apparently have turned against dental HMOs as being too restrictive or suffering from a lack of employee access.

"Employees just can't get appointments," said Kathy Smithwick, a special consultant at Mercer.

According to the survey, 57% of companies reported offering only a traditional unmanaged plan. Nine percent offered a preferred provider organization only, 2% offered a dental HMO only, and 7% offered both a traditional plan and a PPO.

Additionally, 19% of employers offered both a traditional plan and a dental HMO and 6% offered either a PPO and a dental HMO or all choices.

The level of satisfaction with dental managed care is up an impressive 15%, Mr. van der Wal said, compared with two years ago.

More companies are considering moving to managed care plans than before, though few say it is likely they will do so within two years.

The survey found that only about four in 10 respondents were able to estimate how much money they had saved through dental managed care programs. Those who knew reported average savings of 14%, with a median of 10%. But 14% reported no savings.

Most employers reported being very or somewhat satisfied with dental managed care. But 23% are only slightly satisfied, and 6% are dissatisfied.

Free single copies of the report, "Mercer's 1997 Fax Facts Dental Benefits Survey," may be ordered by calling Sarah Markfield, 212-345-7584.


NEW YORK-The Volunteers of America, a leading national charity with 9,000 employees, wants to bring its 51 large and small independent affiliates under one benefit plan.

Individual units of VOA always have dealt with insurance by themselves. Now, benefit consultant Chernoff Diamond & Co. of Albertson, N.Y., has been hired to create a common benefit program for all of VOA, including life insurance, long-term disability, medical benefits and dental coverage.

The whole process, according to Chernoff partner Kevin Quinn, is certain to save coverage costs in the future due to economies of scale and more competitive bidding.

Chernoff is creating a database of health information it will use in negotiating medical insurance. The benefit consulting firm intends to invite both HMOs and POS programs to the table, Mr. Quinn said.

"Hopefully what we're trying to do is increase the level of benefits to employees on a cost-effective basis," Mr. Quinn said.

It will take until the first quarter of 1998 for common life and long-term disability coverages to be put in place. Medical and dental coverage will follow in the second quarter of 1998.