Tri-Village News

Health benefits

City hopes to save cash in county's program

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The city of Grandview Heights plans to join the Franklin County Cooperative Health Benefits Program in an effort to help control its employee health-insurance costs.

City Council approved a resolution earlier this month to authorize the city to join the county's health-benefits pool.

A memorandum of understanding outlining the details and implications of the city's participation will be completed and reviewed by the city attorney before the agreement is final, Director of Finance Bob Dvoraczky said.

"(Council's resolution) is the date," he said. "The memorandum of understanding is the commitment."

Franklin County commissioners last year agreed to open its health benefits program to Franklin County cities, village and townships, Dvoraczky said.

Grandview has been in a health-benefits group program with Anthem since 2010, and the program has been beneficial for the city, he said. Before 2010, Grandview was a stand-alone entity.

But the Franklin County plan was not available to the city in 2010, and it would be beneficial for Grandview to join the larger pool offered by the county, Dvoraczky said.

He said he became familiar with the county plan when he served as finance administrator for Fairfield County, he said. Fairfield County joined the program soon after it was created in 2004.

"They have a good business model," Dvoraczky said. "They're the real deal and it would be a good opportunity for us."

The county program has about $86 million worth of premiums with 6,000 employees covered and $15 million in reserve, he said.

Current cooperative members include Franklin, Fairfield and Pickaway counties, all county elected officials and most county agencies.

Prairie Township joined the cooperative April 1.

Because of its arrangement with Anthem, Grandview will not join the program until Jan. 1, 2014.

Grandview would commit to join the cooperative for three years, but could leave after that time without additional penalties "if somebody builds a better mousetrap," Dvoraczky said.

The cooperative's benefits committee includes representatives from all participating communities so everyone has input on any changes that may be made to the program, he said.

The administration has met with the bargaining units for its union employees to discuss the county program, "and I think the general comments back are strong enough for us to proceed," Mayor Ray DeGraw said. "We can do a follow-up with them. The program saves dollars on both ends."

The city believes it has language in place under its current negotiated agreements giving it the flexibility to make changes in health coverage, he said.

Negotiations with police officers are expected to begin soon on a new contact to replace the current agreement that expires at the end of this year, DeGraw said.

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