County health insurance mix up creates confusion
2020 got off to a rocky start for some Grand County employees who experienced issues with their new county health insurance plans, but county commissioners say the mistake should be fixed going forward.
According to County Commissioner Rich Cimino, employees who had signed up for EPO and PPO plans — exclusive provider organization and preferred provider organization — were mistakenly switched.
“I know Grand County Human Resources got all of the forms from the employees and submitted to HUB (the county’s insurance consultant) accurately but … we’re still trying to uncover whether the mistake was HUB or UMR (the county’s insurance administrator),” Cimino explained.
This mix up created confusion for employees who thought they had been signed up for the wrong plans and for providers who were confused about whether they could take the insurance.
“We had an employee that was in Denver yesterday and their doctor called our health care provider three different times and they said, ‘You are not covered,’ … so she had to turn around and come back home completely empty-handed,” said Jeff Bauckman, communications supervisor for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, at the Jan. 7 commissioners’ meeting.
On Tuesday, the county’s Human Resources Department reached out to the county’s health insurance administrator, UMR, and consultant, HUB, to fix the mistake and get employees on the correct plans.
The change also will be in effect retroactively, so employees will have coverage from Jan. 1. New insurance cards will be mailed to county employees.
For employees who have scheduled appointments, the commissioners suggest reaching out to their doctor before the appointment to ensure the doctor’s office has the correct insurance information.
“All three of us do apologize for any mistakes. We didn’t anticipate this either,” Commissioner Kris Manguso said at the meeting. “We can be angry, but we can also try and move forward and get it fixed, and I think that’s the only thing that will benefit everybody.”
Cimino echoed the sentiment. He was apologetic for the stress and frustration caused by the mistake, but added that the program is new to the county and discussions continue to happen around improving health care options.
“There’s a lot of newness here … but (problems) are inherent anytime you make a change,” he said. “We are going out of our way to go very slowly. The PPO is still available. All of the benefits are still available.”
Cimino also said he still feels the change in health care is right for the county.
“We actually reduced the premiums from 2019 to 2020,” he said. “I wish Cigna had done their job. There’s just no way we could’ve stayed in that system that never drives down the cost of hospitals and doctors.”
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Diane Howell, 77, only leaves her house right now for errands and essentials. As part of the age group considered most vulnerable to COVID-19, she’s felt isolated as she avoids most social interactions.