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DEFIANCE, FULTON, AND HENRY COUNTIES FORM HEALTH INSURANCE CONSORTIUM FOR BUYING POWER THROUGH BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF OHIO

DEFIANCE, FULTON, AND HENRY COUNTIES FORM HEALTH INSURANCE CONSORTIUM
 FOR BUYING POWER THROUGH BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF OHIO
 TOLEDO, Ohio, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Three western Ohio counties have joined forces contractually to form one large group saving tens of thousands of dollars a year on health insurance coverage.
 Known as the Defiance, Fulton and Henry County Health Insurance Trust, it is the first consortium of its kind permitted under a new state law enacted last year. The contract was effective June 1 and is for two years.
 The three counties insure 555 employees and their families through Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio (BCBSO), providing coverage, altogether, for a total of more than 1,250 individuals.
 By maintaining the identical coverage they had prior to June 1, the counties will save a total of more than $162,000 annually.
 Broken down, those savings are: Defiance, $51,111; Fulton, $90,395; and Henry, $21,021.
 Before the new contract took effect, the counties were spending a combined $2,092,937 a year for health insurance. Under the new arrangement, that expenditure will be reduced to $1,930,410.
 "Without changing a thing, these three counties are realizing the savings that come from the basic actuarial principle of spreading health care risk over a single, large group," said John Burry, Jr., BCBSO chairman and chief executive officer. "This also has the beneficial affect of lowering the unit cost of claims processing, which represents additional savings.
 "The counties are also realizing the benefits of the health insurance network concept, or HIN, President Bush addressed when he gave his health care reform speech in Ohio last winter. This may be the first organization of its kind allowed under the new state law, but I predict it won't be the last."
 Officials said a similar association of several school districts was formed several years ago, before enactment of the 1991 law. The practice evidently did not spread because the law was silent on the issue, they said.
 "The arrangement just makes a lot of sense," said Timothy F. Smith, director of sales for BCBSO's Western Division, based in Toledo.
 "These three counties frequently work together on other projects, they were already insured by us, and this is a perfect way to find out if this kind of relationship might be advantageous for other counties, as well.
 "They've established what amounts to a council of governments that ties themselves to each other for two years, meaning they can't drop out and then move back in, because that would affect the viability of the group. If this remains a viable group and works as well as we think it will, other counties might want to join in."
 The arrangement was put together with the help of a broker, Mike Kurivial of the Kurivial-Ball Agency, Inc., with offices in Defiance and Archbold, and who works regularly with the boards of commissioners of each county.
 "We'd been talking about something like this ever since the new law passed," said Kurivial, "but we really went to work on it in April. It only took a couple of months to put it together.
 "One of our initial thoughts was to open the idea up to all 26 counties in the Northwestern District (as defined by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio). But when we came right down to it, these three seemed to be the best partners to start out."
 Virtually every BCBSO health insurance product is available to the employees, except HMO Health Ohio, which has no provider network in the three counties. But two of the three -- Fulton and Henry -- have hospitals which are part of BCBSO's Super Blue preferred provider hospital network.
 -0- 8/11/92
 /CONTACT: David Eden or Paula Slimak of William Silverman and Company, 216-696-7750, for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio/ CO: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio ST: Ohio IN: INS SU:


BM -- CL010 -- 9066 08/11/92 15:07 EDT
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Date:Aug 11, 1992
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