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Kane County looks to health insurance for potential savings

GENEVA – As Kane County works to whittle down a projected budget gap for next year, its elected officials are looking toward the potential cost savings in health insurance.

County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen on Tuesday encouraged the Committee of the Whole to think about actions the board can take in this area, as it is one in which some progress might be made.

Initially projected at about $2 million, the gap in the proposed general fund now totals about $1.2 million, Lauzen said.

Approval of the budget is planned for November. The county is self-insured and has a third-party administrator, Blue Cross Blue Shield.

On Tuesday, Laurence Marx of Global Benefits Group – a Libertyville-based employee benefits consulting firm – outlined the projected 2015 renewal costs with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Fixed costs total $1.16 million, he said, noting those can be negotiated.

Claim costs – which cannot be negotiated – are projected at $13.7 million, he said.

This represents an increase of about 6.74 percent, he said. The county can, however, work toward implementing cost-cutting measures, Marx said.

Strategies include encouraging mail-order for maintenance medications; establishing a working spouse provision; and, among others, using medical advocacy tools, he said.

The total potential savings tops $1.1 million, Marx said. However, he said, collective bargaining agreements would affect what changes could be made.

The most feasible options could result in more than $500,000 in savings, though savings recognizable in 2015 would be about $113,000, he said.

Board member Becky Gillam, R-West Dundee, said many of the strategies, such as the mail-order medications, are mandated in the private sector.

Because of that, she said, it’s likely that a lot of employees’ spouses and families are migrating to the county’s insurance.

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