Gary drops self-insurance plan to save money
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent February 27, 2013 1:28PM
The Board of Public Works and Safety, which approves countless contracts, expenditures and revenue for the city, welcomed Dwayne Williams, the city’s planning director, and voted him secretary as part of its reorganization
Corporation Counsel Niquelle Allen was voted president, and M. Celita Green, Gary’s controller, was named vice president.
Updated: May 2, 2013 1:57AM
GARY — The Board of Public Works and Safetyhas approved a contract to make Cigna, an international insurance and health services company, the new carrier for employees’ medical, dental and vision insurances.
The board also gave Cigna Behavioral Health Inc. a contract, not to exceed $25,000, to offer counseling, a hotline and other mental health services to city workers.
Until last December, the city self-insured its workers, with Professional Claims Management, a company with a number of contracts throughout Lake County, serving as the third-party administrator.
Under Cigna, employees will get better service and the city will significantly reduce its costs and the number of worker hours spent handling claims, said assistant city attorney Richard Leverett.
“We weren’t seeing any savings, and we weren’t handling claims very well,” he said. “This deal with Cigna completely modernizes our plan and it eliminates the city having to handle claims and bills.”
Costs to employees and the city were not immediately available Wednesday, but the overall cost should drop from about $1 million a month to about $750,000 monthly, with employees altogether paying about 25 percent of the premium.
The city had an information fair last December, and about 40 percent of workers learned they will pay up to 40 percent more, a sticking point for them, but the majority of employees will see their premiums drop or stay the same, Leverett said.
All workers will now carry one card for insurance and prescription services, and service should improve, he added.
“People’s claims are going to be paid in a seamless way,” Leverett said.
The city will pay about $2.27 per employee per month for the behavioral health services. That includes counseling services, a hot-line and other help, Leverett added.
The board also approved using $75,000 in federal money funneled through the Indiana Department of Transportation on a study to build sidewalks for the Safe Routes program. Board secretary and Planning Director Dwayne Williams said the study will look at improving safety for Gary children from kindergarten through eight grade in public, private and charter schools.
Two appraisers also were hired by the board through the Community Development department, using federal HUD money. Town and Country Appraisers will provide initial appraisals for buildings acquired by Community Development for $275 per house, with the contract going up to $8,800.
However, property owners who dispute their appraisals can turn to Campbell and Assoc. Appraisers for a second opinion, which will cost the department $300 each, with the contract capped at $3,000.
Also, the board quit-claimed deeds for four properties to Valparaiso-based Amereco Engineering. The company won contracts to rehabilitate homes on the 3600 and 3700 blocks of Tyler Street, the 3600 block of Washington Street and the 3500 block of Buchanan Street.
Amereco is expected to sell the homes, after repairs have been completed, to qualified Gary residents.