Lake County officials check out health care

2013-10-16T13:37:00Z 2013-10-16T21:02:08Z Lake County officials check out health careBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
October 16, 2013 1:37 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | After months of looking for a new health insurance administrator and big savings, Lake County officials ended up with the same one they've used for eight years.

The Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 to keep Professional Claims Management of Burr Ridge. The majority said the threat of cutting ties with the Illinois firm prompted it to reduce future taxpayers' cost for county employees' health care benefits by hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.

However, some elected officials, including Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, thought they could have done better with a new company.

Professional Claims Management were among five companies bidding on the county's business in return for administrative fees and profits ranging from $1.5 million to $2 million.

Each promised to shave about $3 million from the total cost of $33.8 million the county now spends on all employees' health care claims a year through discounted medical services.

Repay, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he liked Meritain Health, an independent subsidiary of Aetna Inc. of Hartford, Conn.

Commissioners Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, and Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, said Professional Claims Management offered what they considered guaranteed reductions in fixed administrative costs as opposed to projected savings others promised through different networks of medical, dental and vision providers.

"None of the companies used the same methods to calculate their projected savings," Allen said.

Allen said he looked at the median and average costs of all five companies and concluded their current administrator has the the best deal. A contract will be drawn up before the end of the year.

Commissioners also approved the qualifications of four companies to bid later this year on medical and psychiatric services to county jail inmates, two companies offering information technology and digital recordkeeping, and six bidding on oversight of heating, cooling and ventilation of government buildings.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to commit $8 million of next year's income tax revenues to a variety of areas.

Some $3.5 million will be sent to the Regional Development Authority for economic development projects around the county. Another $1.5 million will be earmarked for the retirement of old loans needed to finance capital improvement projects. The remainder will go to miscellaneous capital works and operational needs.

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