Now in the midst of setting the 2014 budget, the Leavenworth County Commission got some good news Thursday, agreeing to a health insurance package that will lower their costs by more than 8 percent.
Options for health care coverage for county employees were presented by Reilly and Sons Insurance. Mike Reilly of Reilly and Sons said his company had received five different bids for the county's policy, but the two most competitive bids were from the county current carrier, United Health, and a company that provided the policy before, Humana Health. United proposed a reduction of 8.5 percent to the county's costs compared to the previous year. Humana proposed a 9.9 percent reduction compared to the 2012 numbers. The difference between those respective savings, in actual dollars, is about $26,000, according to county Human Resources Director Diane Collins.
Helping the price out in the United bid was a relatively low number of claims, Reilly said.
“All in all, from an annual perspective, we've seen very good utilization,” he said, though several claims now in the system could lead to a slight spike. “So that, combined with us leaning on carriers and really leveraging the relationship that you've had with United Health Care and other carriers throughout the years, we think is resulting in some of these great numbers.”
Though the Humana bid was lower, proposing a reduction in costs to the county by nearly 10 percent, Commissioner Dennis Bixby asked if there would be employees who would have to switch primary care physicians as a result of a change. Reilly said both carriers have both local hospitals and a number of physicians in their coverage networks.
“There will be some potential for some changes,” she said.
Another consideration, Reilly said, were the “soft costs” ― the employee time and effort to implement a change in health insurance carrier.
“We're kind of in a crunch time, because of course you know we have to have open enrollment,” Collins said. “If we do change carriers, our open enrollment is going to be more intensive than if you renew with United Healthcare.”
Collins also said Humana has a vested interest in putting forth a low bid ― they're trying to get the business. Reilly agreed.
“There's certainly a risk that somebody could come in underbidding to the extent that you have a bad year next year and you end up getting a 20-percent rate increase,” he said. “You hear those horror stories.”
The commission voted to remain with United Healthcare and approved bids from Delta Dental and Humana vision, both of which were unchanged from the previous year.