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Health care changed

April 04, 2001

Health care changed



TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners' attempt to consolidate health care providers for county, Board of Education and Hagerstown Community College employees fell short, but the commissioners and School Board went ahead Tuesday with provider changes.

The County Commissioners voted to switch county health care, dental and prescription drug provider from CIGNA to CareFirst, a move that will save the county about $147,000, according to a consultant hired to study costs.

On Tuesday night, the Washington County Board of Education voted to change its prescription drug provider from Express Scripts to CareFirst. CareFirst is already the board's health insurance provider.

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Employee benefits will not change under the switch in providers, officials said.

The actions came after six months of studying possible measures to save on health care, dental and prescription drug rates.

The commissioners, who initiated the study, had thought that about $500,000 could be saved if all three entities used the same provider.

But Michael Marchini, a consultant from CBIZ Benefits and Insurance, said there would be inequities in costs and contract terms among the county, School Board and college providers if the commissioners chose a combined bid.

Marchini, who was hired by the commissioners to do the analysis, instead recommended the changes that the County Commissioners and School Board approved Tuesday.

The School Board will save $60,000 by changing prescription drug providers, but with an expected increase in medical benefits rates of about $55,000, it comes out about even, Marchini said.

Marchini also recommended that HCC keep Maury, Donnelly, & Parr as its medical benefits provider and Express Scripts for prescription drugs. HCC's board of trustees is expected to discuss the recommendation at its meeting next month.

"We were all hoping for more savings," said County Commissioner Bert Iseminger.

Iseminger said he'd like the commissioners, School Board and HCC officials to discuss aligning benefits among the three groups as another possible cost-saving measure.

"Going forward, we need to look at the benefit levels and how we can bring all groups in line," Iseminger said.

Commissioner John Schnebly said he'd like to know how much it's costing to provide benefits for retired employees. The School Board and HCC offer retirement benefits. The county does not.

"The School Board and junior college are hurt by having that," Schnebly said. "It would be interesting to know in both cases what those retirees are costing."

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