Nathan Whiteman, the county's new insurance consultant, thanked
the board for the chance to serve the employees of the county. He
said, "I am committed to providing the absolute best service in the
industry, solid reliable consultation with employee benefits
management design, and [will always have an] open door for the
employees of the county." Whiteman said, "I want to make sure the
employees have access to what they need when they need it."
Whiteman said that with a "time crunch," he has worked diligently
with the Logan County employees on the 2107-2018 health renewal due
Whiteman shared what he has been researching and gave county board
members a packet outlining some of the bids he has gotten from
He said his office is in the process of granting Vicki Dugan and
Penny Thomas "access to some of our human resources and employee
benefits management database tools. These tools are sure to save
them many hours of work in their database management of the benefit
plans and employees."
Whiteman said with the assistance of Dugan and Thomas and our
current Blue Cross/Blue Shield account representative, "we have
collected the needed information to successfully take the group
medical and dental insurance to market for competitive pricing." He
said the proposal is not final, but shows what he has done and where
bids are at right now.
He asked for quotes from Health Alliance, Aetna, Humana, United
Health Care, and Blue Cross for medical. He said, "I am working on
dental comparisons from Aetna, MetLife, GuardianLife, Standard,
Delta Dental, Principal, Ameritas, and United Healthcare."
Whiteman said several county employees have contacted him and some
wanted to "voice their wishes for the direction of future benefit
offerings." He has talked to around 20 county employees during the
two weeks of data preparation and collection, adding, "My office has
logged over 25 hours" meeting with Dugan and Thomas, multitudes of
emails, phone calls with multiple insurance companies, and
organizing important renewal data.
He said, "our goal is to get approval on the benefit selection for
2017-2018 by March 21 and be finished with the employee enrollment
by no later than April 1 so that Vicki and Penny can get their
payroll set up for the upcoming month."
Whiteman said the Blue Cross plan is set to take a decrease of 1.7
percent. He said, "you were set to take a little over a six percent
increase and that is just general costs and inflation." Whiteman
said a decrease in demographics, the average age of the group, and
credits for better risks account for the 1.7 percent decrease on the
table from Blue Cross.
Whiteman said employee rates, employee spouse rates, and employee
family rates are "all adjusted across the board a little
differently. On average, they went down 1.2 percent, but a few went
up a few bucks, and couple down five dollars." Employees need to
understand the differences.
Whiteman said taking a decrease or flat renewal is the time you want
to "go shop" and "take your case to other insurance carriers" saying
"we're a healthy group, you should want us this year, give us your
best price. That is what we are doing."
Whiteman said the carrier his office has the most business with is
Health Alliance and they quickly sent the county a quote. He said
their quote is "significantly higher than the Blue Cross/Blue
Shield" when comparing their Preferred Provider Organization
Whiteman said the only way to make Health Alliance competitive in
that situation is to "start raising deductibles" but "that is
something we want to avoid if we can do it." He said, "In working
very diligently with Sara, our Health Alliance representative," I
had her look at a point of service network which is "a blend of an
HMO network where you can only see your primary care physician as
in-network and a PPO, so it is kind of a hybrid model."
Whiteman said the point of service network is a "tremendous value"
and can save premium costs. Whiteman said, "The challenge we have
run into with Health Alliance, and where we stand today, is that
Health Alliance was able to mimic almost line for line your current
Blue Cross plan design and put it on the point of service network
and the costs are almost the same." He said I am trying to "educate
you" on the plans, but not necessarily make a recommendation.
Whiteman said when comparing them side-by-side and from the employee
shoes, "I think there is less risk being on the Blue Cross platform
for the employee than on the Health Alliance assuming that they are
the same cost." Whiteman said, "In a lot of situations, that point
of service plan from Health Alliance can be significantly less
Whiteman said the comparison is "apples to apples in price, but they
are oranges to apples in terms of the network."
Whiteman said the Humana representative did not provide a quote
because she told them there is not a good network in Lincoln.
Whiteman said, "United Health Care and Aetna both told me they would
have quotes Monday or Tuesday, and I do not yet have quotes from
them." He plans to ask them for quotes by tomorrow, but said they
may decline or price themselves out. Whiteman said, "We have done
business with both of them" and "both are good."
Committee Chairman David Hepler said he was "uncomfortable" about
Whiteman calling Health Alliance a "strong network" and in the next
paragraph essentially "suggesting we reject because it is an
inferior network." Hepler said, "my concern is we should be making
the judgment without the consultant biasing the data."
Hepler said Whiteman explained it better tonight and what Whiteman
sees as an inferior network might "very well be what we need where
we have some steerage and we have some directed care."
Board Chairman Chuck Ruben said he felt when Whiteman called it an
"inferior network, it was the fact that their point of service would
be an inferior network in the sense that we would not be able to use
all the same people we were used to using." Ruben said some find it
worth more to keep the same doctors and that can be a "strong
Whiteman said, "In the context of what I intended, that is what I
meant." He said, "It is very expensive to have a wide open door of
doctors you can see anytime for any reason. Health Alliance has made
huge strides in constructing this hybrid point of service model."
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Whiteman said, if the point of service network is going to cost the
same as the Blue Cross PPO network, "that is not the direction I
would go. That being said, long term it is absolutely a direction we
should investigate every year." He wants to provide transparency and
ideas by looking at every carrier and plan design. Whiteman said he
does business with all of them and does not benefit more from one or
Board member Adam Schmidt, who chairs the board's Insurance and Legislative
Committee asked if the "apples to apples" comparison between Blue Cross and
Health Alliance includes the consultant fee.
Whiteman said he did not add the consulting fee in for Health Alliance. Since it
is already included in the Blue Cross pricing, "They are not apples to apples
when you add the consulting fee." Health Alliance would be $30,000 more with
that fee added.
Lisa Bobb asked about the referrals and costs and whether the primary care
doctor will charge an office fee.
Whiteman said primary care doctors will usually write referrals for specialists
in the network, and thought someone could get a referral without an office
visit. He said it could be "very situational." He said a point of service has
the flexibility of a PPO but can be less expensive.
Hepler said some problems can be managed by a primary care physician more cost
effectively than referring someone to a specialist.
Whiteman said the Health Alliance representative has offered to come Thursday
and answer questions about the point of service concept. He said the numbers
have to make sense.
Board Office Administrative Assistant Brenda Clark asked whether United Health
Care and Aetna offered point of service.
Whiteman said United Health Care does, but he is unsure about Aetna. He said
United Health Care has a "skinnier network" south of Peoria.
Ruben said previous large claims may keep some providers from giving their best
bid and the others may be able to do better pricing in a year or two. He asked
whether other board members would even consider Health Alliance with a bid that
would be $30,000 higher after consultant fee.
Hepler said he would because "in the long run, it could reverse a trend. It
could make others interested in bidding."
Schmidt asked about employee feedback on the current plan we are in.
Whiteman said people want a "stronger plan for less money," so "a lot of the
feedback was, how do I get a lower deductible and can you also lower the premium
for my spouse. The general feedback regarding Blue Cross alone was that they are
happy with it." Some may be looking for alternatives.
Whiteman said a broker needs to provide people the "full gamut of options looked
at, given consideration, presented in its entirety every year for the board to
digest information, discuss opportunities, risk, [and] costs. That is what we
Dugan asked about Blue Cross costs and whether they could have "a PPO, an HMO,
and a high deductible" to help with "lower premiums."
Whiteman said for one place he is quoting three plans. He said the high cost one
is a PPO plan, the middle one a HMO plan, and the third one is a Health Savings
Account plan with "a $5000 deductible on the point of service plan driving down
the premium a lot. There is savings in that strategy."
Whiteman said he could look at plans more affordable for dependents, which many
employees have asked about.
Dugan said some people would like to switch to a cheaper plan where they could
add their spouse without "breaking the bank."
Cheryl Hedrick said the employees in the county's Emergency Management Agency
want to keep what they have now, but want something cheaper.
Whiteman said the dental insurance is currently provide by Blue Cross, which
last year provided a rate relief. He said the rate relief was a one time
Whiteman said he had heard from Delta Dental, MetLife, And Principal and "we
have lots and lots of great options on the dental coverage and lowering the
Hepler asked Whiteman whether by Thursday he would have the network of dental
providers in Logan County.
Whiteman said, "Yes, I can put that together. We will take the best quotes we
have and maybe put a snippet of what that looks like." He said out of network is
not as big a problem with dental insurance.
Ruben said they need to check on eligibility for board members for dental
insurance. They were not eligible with Blue Cross.
Whiteman said he wants to improve what is being offered. He will be at
Thursday's board workshop to provide updates and answer more questions.
Finance Committee members present were Committee Chairman David Hepler, Vice
Chairman Janet Dahmm, Dave Blankenship, Bob Farmer, Gene Rohlfs and Board
Chairman Chuck Ruben. Other board members present were Emily Davenport, Bob
Sanders and Scott Schaffenacker.
Guests were several county employees including county treasurer Vicky Dugan,
Cheryl Hedrick from Logan County EMA, Amy Kuhlman and Brenda Clark from the
county board office, and victim's assistant Lisa Bobb.