The roughly 2,000 employees of the coming Macon-Bibb County consolidated government can now be sure of where their health, life and other insurance will come from.
Macon City Council voted 14-1 Tuesday evening to approve the unanimous recommendation of a joint city-county selection committee. Councilman Virgil Watkins was the only no vote, saying he thought the proposals should go through the full city committee process. The council voted to suspend its rules Tuesday and approve the choice in one meeting.
Councilwoman Lauren Benedict, a member of the joint selection committee, said speed was needed to get everything in place before the new government starts Jan. 1. Consultants plan to have informational meetings for employees in mid-October, issue new insurance cards in early December and have coverage begin in tandem with the new government so theres no lapse in coverage.
Bibb County commissioners voted 3-2 earlier Tuesday to approve the same recommendations.
The firms recommended for contracts are Blue Cross/Blue Shield for basic insurance; The Hartford for group life insurance; Ameritas for dental coverage; The Standard for long-term disability; and Blue Cross/Blue Shield for vision coverage.
Altogether, consultants project at least $1.2 million in annual savings from administration fees, stop-loss premiums and prescription rebates, compared with the amount the city and county pay out now. Many of those savings are guaranteed by contract.
In addition, Blue Cross/Blue Shield has pledged $100,000 annually for wellness programs and $40,000 to fund informational sessions for employees in mid-October, he said.
Among the promised savings is $280,000 in prescription costs. Councilman Rick Hutto said the new insurance plan will use Express Scripts, the same prescription-approval service the city currently uses. He predicted the savings will stem from poor service.
Hutto and Councilman Henry Gibson both said theyve had long fights with Express Scripts in seeking to get medication approved, and predicted average government workers wont have time to do the same. Employees will become so frustrated theyll just give up, Hutto said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.