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County looks to save big on health insurance

Grady County commissioners are looking into ways to reduce the cost of providing health insurance for the county’s 130 employees. Based on a proposal presented this week the county could save over $600,000 in insurance expenses over the course of one year.
On Tuesday night, the board heard from John Taylor representing Taylor Benefit Resource of Thomasville who is proposing a self funding option for the county.
The city of Cairo this fiscal year went to a self-funded program administered by Taylor Benefit Resource. Other TBR clients are Thomas County, Decatur County and Colquitt County.
“The good news is that at a minimum the county will realize savings of $490,652.76 from what you are currently paying,” Taylor said.
According to the TBR executive the expected annual savings will be $643,049.16.
The county is currently paying a total premium of $1,673,209.20 for health insurance for county personnel.
“The largest part of the premium you pay is for your claims. Premiums are not arbitrary,” Taylor said.
Under the Taylor proposal the county would pay claims up to a set limit and then stop loss insurance would kick in and limit the county’s liability.
In addition to annual savings, Taylor said the advantage of a self-funded option is the flexibility to customize the benefits package offered to county employees.
“We will work with you to design the program exactly the way you want,” Taylor said.
“Some time ago the county was under a self-funded plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield and due to the claims we had they dropped us like a hot potato. Will the same thing happen here?” Chairman Billy Poitevint asked.
Taylor said “absolutely not” and told board members TBR’s forte is putting together self-funded plans.
“We will work with you to control the costs of claims and negotiate discounts for drugs and medical services,” Taylor said.
“Are we comparing apples to apples?” Commissioner Elwyn Childs asked.
Taylor insisted the projected savings were based on comparisons to the county’s current insurance program with United HealthCare.
Vice Chairman T.D. David questioned if there was a penalty for early withdrawal from the United HealthCare plan, but Taylor said there is not.
Commissioners are meeting with the TBR officials today at a worksession beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the courthouse to discuss the self-funded option in greater detail.
Partnering with TBR is Hester’s Insurance, Inc. of Cairo and Madison Street Agency of Thomasville.

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