County to rebid health insurance

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After switching from its longtime health care insurance provider last year, Routt County is asking for bids on its health insurance again.

County officials hope to find a company that offers better customer service, a broader list of covered providers and more coverage for prescription drugs, Routt County Personnel Director Chris Hensen said.

Principal was the county's health-insurance provider for nine years before it changed last year to Anthem, which offered a $1.3 million plan compared with Principal's $1.5 million plan. Saving $200,000 was reason enough for the change, county commissioners said last year.

But during the past nine months, Hensen has received complaints about the new service from multiple employees.

"We've been with Anthem for nine months, (and) we've found that their customer service isn't on the same level that we had experienced with Principal," Hensen said. A lack of covered chiropractors is another common complaint, she said.

County officials expect to get bids from other companies, as well as figures on how much Anthem would charge for another year of coverage, by late October.

The goal is to find a health-insurance carrier that the county can stick with for a long time, Hensen said. But now, it doesn't look as though Anthem is that carrier, she said.

County employees' claims have not been too high this year, Hensen said, and are about 64 percent of what the county has paid in premiums. That's good news as the county waits for the additional bids.

Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said the county has three top priorities. One is to provide a viable health benefit package.

The others are to fully fund an increase in employee salaries that pays employees at the going market rate and to maintain levels of service while paying for capital projects such as the construction of a new justice center.

Providing good health benefits is critical to retaining employees, Sullivan said.

"The bottom line is, by providing competitive salaries and benefits for our employees, that helps us maintain our level of service," he said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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