Health insurance plans would save county money

Blair County commissioners have a choice between two health insurance models for the county’s 458 employees, both of which are projected to save the county significantly on costs from last year.

At best, the county could save about $1 million from last year, according to JJAN Financial Group President Nicholas Sefchok. The maximum potential savings would require a switch from a fully insured model to a self-insured model, he said.

Sefchock presented the commissioners Tuesday with a comparison of a fully insured model through Highmark and a self-insured model through Benecon Employee Benefits Solutions.

“We are under the gun. We need to make a decision at next week’s meeting,” Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The county’s current insurance contract expires in March.

Both options require a three-year commitment.

The greatest potential cost decrease lies in changing to a self-insured model, but Sefchok warned that if claims are higher than expected, the county assumes the risk, and the cost could be about $500,000 higher with the self-insured plan.

If the county stays with its fully insured model, it would see savings of

9.4 percent from last year and does not assume the risk if claims come in higher than expected.

Whichever model the commissioners choose, those are attractive numbers.

“It’s a win-win,” Sefchok said.

Last year, the county spent $6.2 million on its health care, but the final projected cost is $5.3 million under a self-insured plan and $5.6 million under a fully insured plan. The projected cost of the self-insured plan, Sefchok stressed, can fluctuate substantially based on actual insurance claims that arise.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.