Bibb County commissioners Tuesday hired a consultant to help them save hundreds of thousands of dollars with Blue Cross Blue Shield, to which they extended a new contract. Commissioners also set in motion plans to seek new proposals for health plan administrators over the next year.
The consultant, Charles Carlson of Atlanta-based Gallagher Benefit Services, said even before the vote to hire him that he’d already secured about $254,000 in savings through his reviews and renegotiation of the Blue Cross contract. In a previous job, with Blue Cross, Carlson administered the county’s Blue Cross contract.
Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen voted against renewing the Blue Cross contract for next year in a meeting of the Human Resources Committee, which he chairs.
“I just don’t like Blue Cross Blue Shield. I’ll be honest with you,” Allen said.
County commissioners were told they’d face higher costs and disruptions if the Blue Cross plan wasn’t renewed for another year.
Carlson said he’d identified $1.3 million in built-in costs from the plan. He’s proposing about $106,000 in further changes, by terminating many of the county’s wellness programs and ending an aggregate stop loss reinsurance plan.
His other savings included getting Blue Cross to pay promised rebates from prescription companies and negotiating for lower rates with Blue Cross. According to Carlson’s tally, Blue Cross now charges about $1.15 million per year for administration and sought about $1.28 million, but he negotiated that price to about $1.21 million.
The contract with Carlson’s company is valued at about $16,000 every three months.
The county is self-insured, and Blue Cross acts as a third-party administrator for the health plan. A Macon company, Core Management Resources Group, made a pitch earlier this month to administrate Bibb County’s plan. Company President Tom Wagoner said he could save the county $1 million a year, but said he would not put that in writing.
On Tuesday, commissioners agreed to start seeking a request-for-proposals process for a health plan. Several commissioners said they were interested in local competition, without naming any firm. Carlson will help advise the county with that process.
Commissioners and Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson said they didn’t know how to analyze the plan. Layson has been the interim human resources director for about 10 months, and the county is now advertising for a new director.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.