published Thursday, June 16th, 2011

County threatens to drop Cigna

by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

Hamilton County Commission meeting - June 15, 2011

Hamilton County commissioners are threatening to pull the plug on their Cigna health care coverage before it even starts.

The latest round of complaints by commissioners Wednesday concerned whether doctors under the previous BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee plan would be included in the new coverage and why open enrollments were going on for county employees.

“We were told every doctor was grandfathered in,” Commissioner Fred Skillern said at Wednesday’s commission meeting. “If they are not, I’m ready to make a motion” to end the contract.

Skillern said he also has heard complaints that some doctors in the BlueCross plan aren’t in Cigna’s.

Should the county pull the plug on its Cigna health care coverage?
  • Yes. 74%
  • No. 26%

222 total votes.

Brent Johnson, senior new business manager of Cigna, said the company made sure most doctors were covered. If there are doctors not in the plan, Johnson said, the company will work with the county to get them in.

“If you say you want them covered, that’s what we’ll do,” he told commissioners.

Aiming to save about $2.5 million over three years, Hamilton County moved employee health coverage from BlueCross BlueShield to Cigna for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The contract included a 60-day out clause. Officials said the county used Cigna before BlueCross but switched in 2003 because of so many complaints about service.

The company told commissioners weeks ago that the only changes county employees would see would be their insurance cards, Skillern said. Instead, county employees are going through open enrollment, he said. Open enrollment is an annual event many insurance companies use to re-enroll employees into the insurance program.

But Skillern said he and county employees never felt like they had to go through so much red tape to change plans.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the open enrollments fell upon his shoulders. He said he wanted county employees to have a chance to meet Cigna representatives and learn more about the county pharmacy and the county wellness center.

Commissioner Joe Graham said he wanted to make sure Cigna took care of county employees. Saving money is important, he said, but the employees must come first.

“They haven’t gotten a raise in three years and this is one of their perks and I don’t want to screw this up,” he said.

MORE: Hamilton County axes 37 employees

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