Complete Health

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"This article is about the former HMO. For the primary care practice group, see Complete Health (primary care).

CHI logo.jpg

Complete Health, Inc. was a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) based in Birmingham. The headquarters were located at 2160 Highland Avenue and, as the company grew in size, it expanded to neighboring buildings. The company began operations in 1985 and ceased operations as an independent company in 1994 when it was bought out by United Healthcare (UHC) for $207 million. The CEO was William W. Featheringill.

Complete Health was formed in 1985 as a joint venture between the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and a group of Birmingham investors affiliated with the non-profit Medical Advancement Foundation (which was registered on October 1, 1984).

In 1987, the company bought Maxicare Alabama, a Birmingham health maintenance organization managed by a subsidiary of Maxicare. The acquisition made Complete Health the largest HMO in Alabama, with almost 50,000 members.

As Complete Health began to expand into service areas outside of Alabama, they formed Complete Health Services, Inc. which operated HMOs in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. They ran preferred provider organizations (PPOs) throughout their operating areas and offered benefit plans such as prescription drug management, dental plans, small group health plans, Medicare supplements and managed care for organ transplants and other extraordinary care. Complete Health Partners, Inc. was registered on November 11, 1988 and was formed to help facilitate interaction between various companies, Complete Health Services, and provider organizations.

The company embraced technology and developed innovative solutions unique to the tasks of managing health care claims and giving member service and claims adjudicators easy access to member's health records. A project was started in the late 1980s to develop a system that would allow claim forms to be scanned in to a computer system, adjudicated, and then made available for archival and review by member and provider service employees who needed access to the information. The in-house project that was developed was code-named MACESS, which stood for "Member and Claims Electronic Support Systems". The software proved to be very successful and it was spun off into a separate company, Macess Corporation.

At its peak, the company also occupied the first and third floors of One Highland Place as well as the former Traveler's Building building located at 2170 Highland Avenue adjacent to its headquarters on Highland Avenue.

Merger with United Healthcare

Complete Health initially investigated the possibility of going public with a stock offering. However, the possibility of a hostile takeover worried Complete Health management who felt it would not be in the best interest of the company's health care providers and customers.

Complete Health had preliminary talks in 1992 with Qual-Med, a Colorado managed-care company, to buy the company for $65 million. However, negotiations failed and that merger was called off.

The company was already doing business with UHC and, after further talks, decided that combining the two companies would be the best solution. The merger, valued at just under $207 million, called for UHC to issue 2.5 million new shares of common stock to Complete Health's owners — private venture capitalists and the UAB Health Services Foundation. At the time of the merger, Complete Health had 240,000 customers and was the largest independent managed care company in the Southeast. The merger was finalized in April of 1994.