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County hears health plans

Employee health insurance could cost Routt County about $350,000 less next year than it did this year if the county switches to a new provider.

Routt County commissioners learned about bids from six insurance companies, including its current provider, in a presentation by Jay Ringhofer of Benefit Management and Design.

The county hired the health-benefits consulting group in the spring to examine bids for its 2004 renewal.



Of the six bids presented, only one, similar to the county’s current plan, had prices competitive with those offered by Principal, the current provider.

“Our opinion is there’s nothing broken with your current plan design,” Ringhofer said. “Your plan design is set up well.”



A new plan from Anthem would cost the county about $1.3 million for 2004, while a plan from Principal would cost about $1.6 million. This year’s plan cost about $1.65 million.

Now employees can choose from paying a high monthly premium with yearly deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum payments similar to the year before, or they can pay a nominal amount each month in exchange for higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket maximum payments.

The proposal from Anthem would allow each employee a choice of three different plans. The two least expensive plans are similar to the two plans the county already offers to employees. The most expensive plan would be a step up from the county’s best existing plan, Ringhofer said.

One key difference is that Anthem would offer the benefit of copays for office visits, in which employees pay $15 to $25 for each office visit. With the current plan, employees pay the annual deductible and coinsurance before the plan begins to pay, Ringhofer said.

Ringhofer said there is the risk that Anthem’s rates could increase in the future, but that those increases likely would not happen until the third year with the new carrier. He also said Principal also could continue to increase its rates.

Ringhofer also explained options for a partially or completely self-funded medical plan, in which the county would pay only fixed costs and actual claims to a certain level each month but suggested the county would get a better deal by going with one of the companies.

Routt County commissioners expect to decide on an insurance carrier by early November.


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