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County to untangle health insurance bids

Commissioner Keith Mitchell helps open boxes of bids from insurance companies. (Photo by Jeff Parish, eParisExtra)

Commissioner Keith Mitchell helps open boxes of bids from insurance companies. (Photo by Jeff Parish, eParisExtra)

Lamar County has several bids to provide insurance for county employees, but it’s not yet clear which is the best deal.

County commissioners opened nine bids Monday in differing formats for a variety of services:

  • United Healthcare, the current provider, presented an apparent bid for $2.285 million that includes medical, dental and vision.
  • Cigna bid $2.826 million for medical only.
  • Aetna bid $2.884 million for medical coverage only.
  • The Texas Association of Counties offered a bid for medical coverage at $643.62 a month for an employee, $1,475.98 for employee plus spouse, $1,190.70 for employee and children, and family coverage at $2,059.69 for the whole family.
  • Guardian bid $59,945 for dental coverage and $20,352 for vision.
  • Assurant offered dental coverage for $18.50 a month for employees, $37.10 for employee plus spouse, $42.30 for employee plus children and $63.10 for the family. The company also offered life insurance for $546.08 a month for all employees and vision coverage ranging from $6.76 for the employee to $15.38 for the whole family.
  • Delta Dental offered coverage for $60,974 for all employees.
  • Block Vision said it could offer vision insurance for $5.35 a month for employees, $10.25 when adding a spouse, $10.98 for an employee plus children or $16.86 for the entire family.
  • Superior Vision said it could cover the county at $5.48 a month for employee, $10.32 to add a spouse, $10.42 for employee plus children and $15.24 for family coverage.
  • Minnesota Life bid life insurance at $22,850.
  • Discovery Benefits offered to administer COBRA benefits if the county leaves United Healthcare for 85 cents per employee each month.

Because of the varying styles of bids, Misty Wofford, a consultant with Lockton Dunning Benefits, will analyze the information and bring them back in a format that levels them out and the commissioners can see “what all this means and compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges,” County Judge Chuck Superville said.

“The main question I have is United Healthcare,” he said. “It looks like it’s the low bid, but I’m not sure about that number.”

The confusion arose because the company’s bid was markedly lower than its proposed renewal for $2.678 million. The current contract is about $2.5 million. The increase for a straightforward renewal is roughly 7 percent – much lower than the 10 to 20 percent Superville had expected.

By Jeff Parish, eParisExtra

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