Fifteen of St. Louis' largest companies said last week that they will team up to buy healthcare for their employees.
The group includes McDonnell Douglas Corp., Monsanto Co. and 13 other members of the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition. Together, they spent $210 million last year on healthcare for 140,000 people, about 5% of the St. Louis-area population.
Like business groups in Minneapolis and elsewhere, the St. Louis businesses will try to use their combined might to force better quality healthcare and lower prices. Because of consolidation among St. Louis-area providers, employers feared they would lose negotiating power if they didn't unite, too, said James Stutz, executive director of the business coalition.
Twenty-three of the organization's 38 members aren't participating in the development of its buying group, but some might sign on later, Mr. Stutz said.
Some 47 small firms formed another group last year to buy healthcare for 5,000 employees.
The business coalition plans to solicit bids in January for contracts that will take effect in 1996. Companies haven't decided yet how much of their business will be involved.