A few years ago, L&F Distributors, a McAllen, Texas-based beer wholesaler owned by Joe LaMantia and his family, decided to do something for its employees and their dependents about perpetually rising health costs.

L&F had previously created a captive insurance program for property & casualty and workers’ compensation, and had expanded it to cover 38 beer distributors across the country. That success prompted the creation of a second captive insurance company covering health benefits for beer wholesalers, which was expanded three years ago to also cover industries not associated with the beer business. Today, all three programs are operated by BevCap Management, an insurance agency that L&F co-founded, and cover more than 20,000 lives in over 20 states.

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The benefit structure of the plans is advantageous to employees: For example, imaging tests, urgent care visits, and ambulatory surgeries are free, if conducted in contracted facilities. The average deductible is only about $750, much lower than the high deductibles in many employer-sponsored plans. And the employers benefit, as well. For instance, L&F has contracted with Texas Medical Management, an ambulatory surgery center in Austin whose rates are so affordable the company can fly employees in from other locations, put them up in a five-star hotel, pay for their meals, waive their copays and deductibles, provide a $1,000 cash incentive, and still save between 20% and 30% on the cost of doing the same procedure in a local hospital.

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