Orange: investigates health care coverage

By D. Anthony Botkin - [email protected]

In search of better health care insurance for township employees, Orange Township Trustees heard from a representative with the Ohio Public Entity Consortium-Health Care (OPEC-HC).

Megan Toitch, of Ohio Insurance Services Agency, Inc. and OPEC-HC, said the board had elected to discontinue working with the administrator of the Jefferson Health Plan; and OPEC-HC’s plan was now administered by Benovation of Cincinnati.

Toitch said the change was in response to the current financial situation of OPEC-HC to address a deficit.

“It was to save money and to fix cost,” she said. “Then reduce those costs to decrease the deficit and increase the bottom line, and the benefits are not changing.”

Toitch said moving from Jefferson has benefited the consortium a savings of $89 per employee, per month.

“If we look at that through the whole cooperative of 3,200 members it’s saving over a million dollars by the end of the year,” she said. “Either way, groups looking to withdraw from the cooperative or for groups still finding value within the cooperative, they are definitely going to see a result with the fixed cost savings.”

Toitch said OPEC-HC had recently sent out a letter that explained the situation with Ohio Health to members of the consortium. She said the one big question out there from members are the Ohio Health providers accepting the new plan.

“We have members seeking care through Ohio Health at this point,” Toitch said. “Ohio Health providers are accepting the OPEC-HC program. The biggest thing I’m telling the groups that I’m working with at this point is, if someone is having trouble accessing a provider, is to call the OPEC-HC support line.”

Lee Bodnar, township administrator, said there is a learning curve moving from the older health care products because providers health services are not familiar with the new “models and paradigms.”

“There are some growing pains and some unfamiliarity with those new products,” he said.

The township is currently in a three-year agreement with the consortium that ends at the end of 2017.

Toitch said the consortium is looking to change the agreement to better the constant changing demands in health care cost.

“OPEC-HC board is looking at a different 2018 member agreement that address a couple of things,” Toitch said. “One of those things is the commitment will be changed to a one-year term.”

Trustee Debbie Taranto wanted to know why something wasn’t done sooner about fixing OPEC-HC’s deficit.

“We saw other consortiums do really well,” said Taranto. “I kind of felt we were going in a positive direction. It has been very disappointing.”

Toitch told the trustee that things were changed at that time and the projections showed that the deficit would be paid off.

“Unfortunately that’s not where we ended up,” Toitch said. “It was a much different market than we see ourselves in today.”

Trustees signed a letter of intent to withdraw from consortium June 19 with an option of being able to resend the letter by Aug. 31 and staying with OPEC-HC.

Bodnar said looking at OPEC-HC cost saving projections that the deficit could be reduced enough for the township to stay in the consortium.

Bodnar told The Gazette if the township wanted to withdraw they would need to pay their share of the deficit that is estimated to be approximately $500,000.

Bodnar said the consortium is a way to share the cost of health care. He said the consortium contains about 150 groups with about 3,200 members. The township has 60-70 full-time employees enrolled in OPEC-HC.

Bodnar said since the agreement with OPEC-HC is coming to an end, the township is investigating the and comparing it to what OPEC-HC could offer.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.