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County health care savings plan under consideration

GENEVA – A company that aims to bring health care savings to Kane County by allowing employees to better shop for medical procedures is being peppered with questions.

Representatives from HealthEngine – which bills itself as the answer to competitive health care pricing – were in Geneva on Monday for an informational meeting with Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, some employees and a few County Board members.

“This is a really big deal,” Lauzen said. “We have a chance to innovate.”

But County Board members – who were presented with HealthEngine’s concept during committee meetings in March and April – continued Monday to question the company about its services.

The Chicago-based, physician-led group recognizes patients have a choice regarding their health care and deserve to know the price range of a service before they purchase it, CEO and founder Jonathan Weiss said.

He said it began its U.S. launch this year.

HealthEngine aims to save its clients money by negotiating rates with health care providers – primarily imaging and surgery centers – that are lower than the rates offered by insurance companies, Weiss said.

When employees use providers with the lower rates, the county and HealthEngine would equally split the savings.

“This proposal is pay for performance,” Lauzen said.

It would not replace the county’s existing health insurance. The county is self-insured and has a third-party administrator, Blue Cross Blue Shield.

County Board members questioned how HealthEngine’s service works, why providers would be willing to lower their rates and how HIPAA factors in. John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, requested involvement from the State’s Attorney’s Office so legal questions could be cleared.

Judith Brawka, chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, asked for evidence that shows costs factor into decisions about medical care. She argued that people go to physicians because of their expertise.

“It is not like flying on an airline,” she said.

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