published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Hamilton County switches to Cigna

by Dan Whisenhunt
Staff File Photo
The Cigna building is in downtown Chattanooga across from Warehouse Row.
Staff File Photo The Cigna building is in downtown Chattanooga across from Warehouse Row.

Hamilton County Commissioners this morning voted unanimously to change the county’s health insurance administrator from BlueCross BlueShield to Cigna, chasing the possibility of millions in savings.

After grilling representatives from both companies, county commissioners decided it was worth it to switch to try to save money in the long-run.

Tony Pepper, business segment director of major accounts for BlueCross, told Hamilton County commissioners last week the company had filed a formal protest of its proposal to award the insurance contract to Cigna. Many county employees have expressed reservations about the proposed change from BlueCross, citing problems experienced with Cigna before the county switched to BlueCross in 2003.

Cigna says it can save the county $1 million annually. Today they learned it would be $2.5 million over three years because of costs to closeout the contract with BlueCross. Administrator of Finance Louis Wright said the county spends $20.8 million a year on insurance, the bulk of which goes to paying claims.

The contract would have a 60-day out clause, Cigna Vice President of Sales Brent Wick said.

Commissioner Fred Skillern warned Cigna that he would not hesitate to vote to terminate the contract if employees have problems with the company.

“You don’t have to get as bad as you were before for me to make a motion (to terminate),” Skillern said. “You just start in that direction and I’m ready to make a motion.”

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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HCE said...

Did anyone think to ask how much out of pocket is county employees who have not had a raise in 3yrs going to save or was the employess interest not a factor as usual.

May 26, 2011 at 11:40 a.m.
tam1967 said...

If BCBS would focus more on service and less on over blown office structures,then perhaps they would be more price competetive.

May 26, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.
grandmastaj said...

Actually, BCBS can't stay competitive with Cigna because Cigna outsources, and has shoddy at best customer service. Please know what you are talking about before spouting garbage out of your mouth.

May 26, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.
Leaf said...

Too bad. I feel sorry for all the customers of Cigna. You'll spend hours and hours on the phone trying to get them to pay what they owe.

May 26, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.
bpqd said...

Another political crony ploy. Do our local politicos do anything else but payoff their friends?

May 27, 2011 at 8:09 a.m.
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