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Jefferson County commissioners scold insurance broker

by Dennis Sharkey

On Monday county commissioners could figuratively be seen holding their noses during a discussion about the county’s health insurance plan. The county switched to a self-insured plan last year after Blue Cross and Blue Shield came back with a 12 percent increase. This year’s plan was expected to increase costs by six percent in a worst case scenario.

Next year’s numbers are even more scary. If no changes are made and commissioners decide to renew the current plan the cost could increase by 33 percent under a worst case scenario.

Making a switch to a new network isn’t as bad but the county could still see increased costs by up to 20 percent.

Phil Drescher with Bukaty Company, an insurance broker, tried to explain on Monday what happened with this year’s plan and the numerous problems that were incurred.

“It hasn’t performed to my expectations and I know it certainly hasn’t performed to the county’s expectations either,” he said.

Last year when the switch was made the county went to a health care network operated by CIGNA Health Systems. However, the plan was actually Great West Health, a company owned by CIGNA.

Drescher said the plan was chosen because of access workers would have to Stormont-Vail in Topeka and most hospitals in the Kansas City area. But, some health care providers would not recognize the GWH cards.

“That’s the problem now,” Luck said. “This Great West Health CIGNA network is terrible. You never said anything about Great West Health. You said CIGNA and it’s different. That has caused a world of hurt.”

Drescher said many of the problems were handled on a case by case basis which caused a lot of extra work for his office.

He is recommending the county switch to Preferred Health Care which is owned by Coventry Health Care. He said both logos will be on the card and workers would have access to both networks.

Chairman Richard Malm pulled out his health care card and pointed to both logos of CIGNA on his card. Malm then pointed to a disclaimer on the back.

“That’s confusing,” Malm said. “Is that going to be the same way with this?”

Drescher said that would not be the case but Malm didn’t buy it.

“I’m not sure we can trust you,” Malm said.

Drescher said he would bring a representative from Coventry to the next meeting.

The county would also switch plan administrators according to Drescher’s suggestions.

Currently the county’s plan is administered by Meritain Health. A switch would mean that Coventry would also administer the plan.

Luck said last year when the switch was being made concerns were raised at the time about Meritain and their reputation for paying late.

“I saw examples of things the clerk got that we’re actually paying claims from December a month ago,” she said. “It was a terrible turn around. I think they did a poor job.”

Failure of the plan isn’t the only bad news. Costs are also on the rise and this year’s costs are approaching the maximum amount that the county funded for the plan.

Drescher said in a five-year cycle the county should expect three average years and a year of savings coupled with a year of high costs.

“Guys, I think you had your really bad year right out of the gate,” Drescher said.

Commissioners are coming down to crunch time to publish a budget. Having the insurance costs in hand will determine where cuts are made.

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Posted by on Aug 16 2011. Filed under County, County Commission, Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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