When MESSA first began operating, it was little more than a fledgling insurance agency.
As MESSA's market share expanded, so did the size of its operations. The current
organization of MESSA is so expansive that it now requires a 70,000 square foot office
building, a staff of approximately 200, and a specific delegation of responsibilities
through three departments.
Warren Culver, a former employee of both the MEA and MEDNA, has been the executive
director of MESSA since 1990. He serves as the chief administrative officer, with ultimate
responsibility for administration, sales, performance, development, relations with the MEA
and its other subsidiaries, and the regular daily operations of MESSA. Currently, there
are three departmental directors who report directly to the executive director and
hundreds of others who report indirectly to him.12 The three departments of
MESSA include Marketing and Field Services, Benefits Administration, and Healthcare
The Department of Marketing and Field Services consists of approximately 30 staff
members, including the MESSA field representatives who act as liaisons between MESSA and
its membership. Under the leadership of Jim Hobson, this department performs certain
membership services, such as answering members' questions, handling account renewals, and
quoting prices for customer school districts. Field representatives, who usually have
background experience as licensed insurance agents, are assigned to specific regions of
the state where they intervene between MESSA and its individual members over concerns
related to administration of insurance benefits. MESSA's division of field representatives
is separate from the MEA's Uniserv division of professional contract negotiators, although
they apparently share many of the same duties, such as counseling MEA members about
At the core of MESSA's operation is its largest single department, Benefits
Administration. With a staff of around 140, the Department of Benefits Administration
handles all claims from members, as arranged for in MESSA's operating agreements with its
underwriters. In addition to processing claims and coordinating benefits, this department
administers certain MESSA programs, such as claims evaluation and case management. This
aspect of MESSA's operations is directed by Ann Purvis.
Under the directorship of Chuck McMillan, the Department of Healthcare Resources is
primarily focused on MESSA's health insurance programs, which cover the vast majority of
MESSA participants. The activities of this department are based upon MESSA's contract for
underwriting services from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. With a staff of around 25,
this department helps coordinate the options given to MESSA members for receiving medical
services, in conjunction with Blue Cross.
Almost all of MESSA's clerical work is handled by the Michigan Education Data Network
Association, which is, in effect, an indirect department of MESSA. Among other things,
MEDNA provides MESSA with financial services, personnel services, property maintenance,
and computer operations/maintenance. In fact, Dick Ringstrom, MEDNA's director of data
processing, is a former director of marketing and field services at MESSA. Of greatest
importance to MESSA is MEDNA's responsibility for operating the central processing unit of
MESSA's complex computer network.