County health insurance bids in

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Routt County received four bids on health insurance plans, which will be carefully considered in the coming weeks.

Bids came in last Friday from United Health Care, Rocky Mountain Health Plan, Pacificare and County Technical Services County Health Pool.

What each health insurance provider bid could not be released, as the county has reserved the right to continue negotiating the bids, said Routt County Personnel Director Chris Hensen.

The county was expecting six bids. One company that did not bid was Principal, which had provided the county's health insurance for almost the past decade until the county switched last year.

Because of a tight budget, Routt County commissioners made the change from Principal to Anthem last year, as Anthem's plan cost about $200,000 less than Principal's.

This year, the county took its health insurance back out to bid, hoping for a company that would provide better customer service, better coverage of prescription drugs, and other improvements, Hensen said.

A preliminary estimate from Anthem showed a 27 percent increase from last year's price. That would mean the county's health insurance would cost about $1.65 million, compared to $1.3 million last year.

That estimate was only a preliminary one and could change once a final estimate is submitted, Hensen said.

The estimated increase could be a result of several factors, such as claims and administrative costs, and trends such as where the entire health insurance industry is heading, Hensen said. Also, the first year a new company provides insurance coverage typically is less expensive, as the previous company continues to pay off claims.

Hensen and a county committee will carefully read through the health insurance bids and what coverage and providers each company provides, and then make a recommendation to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

If the county changes providers again, it must make a decision soon so all employees can be enrolled, Hensen said.

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

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