West Memphis going back to United for employee health coverage

Council approves Insurance Commission recommendation for switch

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

The request to change health insurance providers for city workers from Cigna to United Health Care was introduced to City Council for consideration during the Insurance Committee report last month during council. United Health Insurance came in as the low bidder to provide the coverage. The city asked competitors for identical coverage to get an apples to apples comparison. While the current provider Cigna went up in price by $420,000 for the coverage it had issued. The United offer came in with the same coverage and virtually no increase in cost to the city. Nonetheless, the premiums to cover the city’s 400 workers with health insurance for the year are $2,580,000. However, there will be no increase in cost to employees. City Councilwoman Ramona Taylor briefed Council members Thursday afternoon. “We did interview Blue Cross & Blue Shield, United Health Care and Cigna. United was the low bidder, saving 420,000 annually to go with them,” said Taylor. “It is not the River Valley plan we had with them before. It is the regular United plan. The city switched from United’s River Valley plan to Cigna after employees had expressed dissatisfaction. Many complained at the lack of doctors available through that plan. Human Resource Director Dewayne Douglas pointed out there are more doctors with this new United plan than even Cigna offered. Taylor told council they had done not just settled for the lowest rate but had done due diligence in check references with other cities about their satisfaction with United Health Insurance. “Dewayne called several other cities in Arkansas and they were satisfied with the local physicians local physicians and hospitals including those in Memphis,” said Taylor. We bid the exact package, $500 deductible. While we have been very pleased with Cigna we had to turn away from the $420,000 increase.” Councilman Tracy Catt went on record to underscore the change of carriers did not mean a change in coverage. “We need to let the employees no that there is no change in coverage,” said Catt. “It is the same quality coverage you’ve had plus a few extra physicians you did not have before. It is a great plan.”

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