Case Studies


MarineMax Charts its Course: Full Speed Ahead on Savings

At a glance

Boat Retailer
Clearwater, Florida

MarineMax is the world’s largest boat retailer, with over 50 locations nationwide and more than 1,600 employees. The roots of MarineMax date back over 40 years ago and it has been publicly traded since 1998. The company sells boats and yachts, offers charter vacations in the British Virgin Islands, and is a resource for world-class service, financing and insurance, educational programs, access to Getaways!® trips and other boaters.


Prior to being self-insured, MarineMax had been insured by the four largest group health insurance plans over the years. “We’ve had them all,” said MarineMax’s Senior Vice President of Talent and Team Development Ray Bowman, Ph.D. When asked what wasn’t working with these plans, he joked, “How much time do we have? Everything wasn’t working.” Dr. Bowman, who’s been with MarineMax for nine years, cited lack of transparency and unnecessary spending as the primary causes of discontent. “We kept talking to phone prompts and machines instead of humans when we called,” Dr. Bowman said. “We weren’t being given great options, and it was just a drill year after year that was not sensible.” A personal experience prompted Dr. Bowman to finally seek an alternative for MarineMax. He received an Explanation of Benefits that showed his insurance plan had paid his doctor $9,000 for a procedure he was told cost $900. Upon making calls to the doctor – who’d made a mistake with the claim by adding an extra zero – and the insurance company, Dr. Bowman discovered that the insurance company didn’t catch the error because it was within the range the plan would pay. In fact, the upper range for Dr. Bowman’s $900 series of shots was more than $20,000. “This taught me that the insurance companies are paying no attention and are just writing checks,” Dr. Bowman said. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led me on my journey looking for viable alternatives to traditional insurance companies for MarineMax.”


Dr. Bowman decided to investigate options for self-funded health plans. He found ELAP Services. ELAP uses a reference-based pricing (RBP) model. Unlike a traditional Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) that focuses on billed charges, RBP focuses on actual costs. It starts with the cost of the service and adds a reasonable profit margin, resulting in a fair reimbursement rate. ELAP is the first, largest and most innovative RBP provider in the industry. “I literally flew around the country to interview people who used ELAP and got raving reviews,” Dr. Bowman said. In 2016, MarineMax signed on with ELAP to cover its 1,050 eligible employees.


As compared to what MarineMax would have paid with a traditional PPO model, with ELAP the company has experienced:

NET SAVINGS $5 Million since inception*
DEDUCTIBLES REDUCED 1st time in 40 years
NET SAVINGS (FISCAL YEAR) $2 Million (2018-2019 alone)*

*Savings based on estimated PPO charges. Actual results may vary and are not guaranteed.

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” Dr. Bowman said. “When we save money in any way, including healthcare, the business has more opportunity in everything it wants to pursue.” Not only has ELAP saved MarineMax money – it’s saved employees money, as well. Since working with ELAP, MarineMax has been able to reduce deductibles for the first time in 40 years, and on a yearly basis. The company has reduced copays and added benefits at no cost to employees. “We’re trying to share with employees the financial benefits of being with ELAP,” Dr. Bowman said. “We had one employee who had to have a surgery, and it didn’t cost her a deductible or a co-pay. Employees are delighted by the savings.” On average, ELAP saves a family of four $6,681 per year on out-of-pocket costs for care.

The experience

Because most employees tend to be more familiar with a traditional health plan than with reference-based pricing, MarineMax’s team members had a learning curve when the company signed on with ELAP. ELAP makes employee education a priority, to make things as easy and effective as possible. “ELAP was awesome helping us roll out the program,” said Dr. Bowman. “We have over 50 stores across the country and a dozen marinas, and ELAP did a great job getting to our folks and helping them understand. ELAP is very good at talking to our team and supporting them, and providing educational materials. The feedback we get from employees when they have to call ELAP is that they make things very, very easy.” Before MarineMax was self-funded, Dr. Bowman was frustrated by the lack of transparency and access to the plans. These problems have disappeared with ELAP. “The people at ELAP are very personable, and you don’t have to go through a bunch of phone prompts to get to someone,” said Dr. Bowman. “They have a very humanistic culture there, and that’s important to us because that’s the kind of culture we try to have here. And their leadership are decent, genuine people who are giving back to their community. It’s pretty impressive.”

The bottom line

Dr. Bowman gives speeches throughout the country about healthcare and business.

“What I say in my talks is ‘just do it.’”

Dr. Bowman boiled ELAP down to three traits: trustworthy, dependable, sincere. “The more money a company saves, the more flexible spending becomes. It’s a win-win for everyone: ELAP, MarineMax and our employees.”

“If you want it easy and expensive, stay with the big-four,” Dr. Bowman said. “It’s easy, but it will be an ongoing financial burden.” “If you want really good and significantly less
expensive, start being your own healthcare advocate.”

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