Chesterton Tribune



Anton Insurance resigns as Porter County health insurance agent

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RE Sutton and Associates of Carmel, Ind. is in and Anton Insurance is out as Porter County government’s insurance servicing agent for the employee health plan.

Anton Insurance, which has been the servicing agent for 25 years with the County, sent notice to the Commissioners on Friday that it will be resigning effective April 1.

Three days before, Anton Insurance principal Mike Anton was at last week’s Commissioners meeting for the discussion on renewals on contracts pertaining to the County’s healthcare plan for employees and elected officials. Anton with Troy Scott of R&R Benefits described the savings netted from the decision made two years ago to switch to INETICO’s cost-plus plan and selecting Benefit Administrative Systems as a third-party administrator in January 2016.

Scott last week said the County is paying insurance claims totaling under $8 million, the lowest it’s been in nearly a decade. Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, however expressed qualms over the plan’s setup with different renewal dates, auto renewal procedures and administrative costs.

The Commissioners returned Tuesday for a special meeting to make final decisions and make changes where necessary.

In the end, the Commissioners voted 3-0 to keep the plan as it is. Approved on a motion by Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, was the organ transplant contract with AIG and the third-party administrator contract with BAS.

County Attorney Scott McClure said that the contract with INETICO was automatically renewed in December and therefore no changes could be made at this time. A press release issued by the Commissioners after the meeting Tuesday said that in vetting the healthcare plan package, they found that UnitedHealthcare, whose coverage plan is more traditional than INETICO, would have been a competitive option.

Approved last week 3-0 was the stop loss insurance plan with Sun Life. The County will also continue with pharmacy benefits manager Magellan Rx.

Lastly, the Commissioners voted 3-0 to hire RE Sutton as the health insurance servicing agent following Anton Insurance’s departure.

From the board’s press release, “The unexpected resignation of Anton Insurance forced the Commissioners to approach RE Sutton to act as the servicing agent for the employee health insurance plan. RE Sutton agreed to serve in this capacity due to the timing constraints and fully understands that this will be a one-year agreement, to bridge the County to 2018. The change of servicing agent will further save an additional $150,000 for a plan year.”

Tony Bontrager, a group service consultant with RE Sutton, said that the per employee per month fee that his firm will charge is $3.75. The fee before was $12.50 per employee per month that was split between Anton Insurance and R&R Benefits.

“Our structure as a bridge moving forward will be heavy on the consultation and analysis side. Our day-to-day structure might be different than what you have today but we can do it,” said Bontrager.

Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, asked Bontrager if RE Sutton would be receiving additional fees from any other companies on the plan. Anton received 20 cents per prescription from Magellan Rx.

Bontrager replied that fee will only be paid by the County and there won’t be any additional money from other companies.

RE Sutton had been hired as a consultant by the Board of Commissioners in January for $8,000 to review the County’s health insurance plan and assist in evaluating other options.

Good also made the point that the Commissioners will see that all contracts for health insurance will no longer have automatic renewals in them. This is so all aspects of the plan can be reviewed and bid out on a yearly basis “to ensure the plan costs are as low as possible,” he said.

It is the approach that the Commissioners wish to take with all their contracts, said Good who became president of the board in January.

Good said that after 2017, the County will have two years of quality data under BAS’ management and that would boost its chances for earning more savings in the year following. The data from the County’s previous third-party administrator Stewart C. Miller had not been useful, he said, as it lacked census information providers want to look at. Bontrager said having more than one year’s data is helpful in searching the market.

“Insurance underwriters tend to be pretty conservative people. With no data, they are going to assume the worst-case scenario so you want good data so they can make accurate projections. Having at least two years would move you forward,” Bontrager said.

Good thanked his peers and McClure for their work, saying he’s very pleased with the outcome.

“Our goal was to get all the players today and keep the insurance going today. I think we can honestly say to the citizens of Porter County and the employees, that we have our hands on the steering wheel of the health insurance program in Porter County, finally,” Good said.

Anton comments

Mike Anton was not present at the meeting Tuesday but spoke with the Chesterton Tribune afterwards about the resignation.

Anton said he is very proud of the work that has been done to reduce costs on the plan since the Commissioners implemented a reference-based approach with INETICO. “The plan has been hugely successful,” he said.

It was clear to him however that the Commissioners wanted to move in a new direction, and if so, he is “okay with that.”

Anton said he did question the accuracy of the Commissioners’ claim that switching its servicing agent would yield a savings of $150,000 for the County. The difference of the $12.50 fee compared to $3.75 per month per employee would be about $60,000 with the 545 employees on the plan.

With RE Sutton as a consultant, Anton said he thinks that more work will be need to be done by the County’s Human Resources Department.

Anton said he will miss the opportunity of working with County employees as he and Leigh Westergren, Benefits Manager with Anton Insurance, have developed personal relationships with them.

Anton Insurance also provided the administrative fee costs for 2016, which Good had asked Scott for at the previous meeting last week. A total of $142,290 was paid to BAS and $98,789 to INETICO. For servicing agent premiums, $105,330 was paid for transplant coverage, $768,884 for stop loss coverage and $30,506 for aggregate coverage. The grand total in fees was $1.226 million.


Posted 3/22/2017





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