Health Benefits Changes Help Create Harmony
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

The largest performing arts organization in Indiana, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is one of the few full-time, year-round symphony orchestras in America. It was founded in 1930.

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Like all nonprofit organizations, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has been challenged to keep up with rising health care costs on a limited budget. With nearly 90 percent of its 130 employees represented by labor unions, the ISO is further challenged because any solutions it creates must strike a chord with unions and also prove to be feasible in a nonprofit setting. The ISO initially engaged FirstPerson for three months in 2009 to provide an assessment of its benefits and opportunities. FirstPerson identified a number of hurdles in the ISO’s path to lowered health care costs.

  • Reaching consensus with union representation
  • Existing program that offered new options
  • Wellness programs that were not embraced
  • Ongoing employee morale issues


FirstPerson reviewed the ISO’s claims history and compared it to projected claims, then created a forecast of the impact the organization could make by complementing its existing plan with an HSA. This level of sophistication quickly won the firm trust at the negotiating table. The plan FirstPerson put together included:

  • Actuarial analysis of insurance claims history and forecast impact of  new plan
  • The addition of high-deductible Health Savings Account
  • New and increased benefit options
  • Open Enrollment process focused on communications
  • Formation of wellness committee and regular wellness initiatives
  • Benefit design changes, network change, consumerism-based approach


With FirstPerson, the ISO and its employees got a benefits administrator that delivered a plan that was both palatable and cost-effective. That might explain why, after its three-month audition, FirstPerson found itself fully engaged as ISO’s employee-benefits partner. The tangible results FirstPerson delivered include:

  • Double-digit decreases in health care expenses
  • A two-year net savings of $168,000
  • Increased employee participation in wellness initiatives
  • Improved health care benefits for all employees
  • A new standard for benefit and wellness administration