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County negotiates lower insurance costs with help of new broker

MORRIS – Under its new insurance broker, Grundy County has negotiated a savings of about $13,000 in employee insurance costs after much negotiating with provider Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The county faced a 3 percent increase in costs with the renewal of its health insurance plan, but the county’s negotiating team was able to secure a 1 percent increase, instead.

With the percentage increase, the county will pay an additional $6,040 this year, which is less than the $19,202 cost increase it was facing.

Blue Cross’s fixed-cost increases stem from administrative fees, specific stop loss insurance and aggregate stop loss insurance, according to human resources director Debra Johnson.

Johnson, Tim Knauf of Williams-Manny Insurance Group of Rockford, Personnel Committee Chairwoman Vicki Geiger and Finance and Personnel Committee member Chris Balkema comprised the county’s insurance negotiating team.

The results of these negotiations were presented to the Personnel Committee at its most recent meeting last week.

According to Johnson, the negotiating process was not easy.

“Our persistence has paid off,” Johnson said at the meeting. “We just kept running it up the flagpole, up the flagpole, and I think we were at a vice president, and they still said no.”

Geiger said the team pressed Blue Cross Blue Shield further, which eventually led to the $13,000 in savings.

“We did get some concessions, and we’ve got to be a little bit happy for that,” Geiger told the committee.

Knauf said Williams-Manny will be able to mitigate next year’s cost increases earlier with guidance from the data analysis and reports it will compile throughout the year.

This was Knauf’s first presentation to the Personnel Committee as the county’s new insurance broker. In June, the county voted to hire Williams-Manny to be its broker after several weeks of heated public debate.

Knauf also presented his first report to the committee, something the company intends to do in-person every quarter and via email every month.

The county has decided to stay with its existing health insurance plan, taking this next year to have Williams-Manny explore cost-saving measures.

“We’re not trying to reduce benefits. We’re trying to enhance them and spend smart,” Geiger said.

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