City officials weigh health care switch

City officials are considering hiring a new company to administer Columbus’ self-funded health care plan.

Columbus Board of Works members learned the results Tuesday from a request for proposals in which four companies submitted prices to administer the health plan beginning Jan. 1, including current third-party administrator SIHO Insurance Services in Columbus.

SIHO has been the city’s provider for a decade, City Attorney Jeff Logston told the board.

There have been no complaints about SIHO’s service, but the city decided to put out the request for proposals to get price comparisons, he said.

Proposals were submitted by:

Dunn & Associates, Columbus, $118,008, with a 100 percent pharmacy discount and rebates passed back to the city. Dunn & Associates is Bartholomew County’s third-party administrator for the county’s self-funded health plan.

SIHO Insurance Services, Columbus, $199,056 with a pharmacy rebate offset of $47,520 that would be subtracted from that total.

Unified Group Services, Anderson, $153,120.

Benefit Administrative Services, Chicago, $141,920 with 100 percent of pharmacy discounts and rebates passed on to client.

Logston explained the proposals had been reviewed by the city’s insurance committee, but because there wasn’t a quorum the committee did not have a recommendation. The city’s insurance committee is made up of city employees, representatives from the Columbus City Council and insurance professionals.

Board members questioned whether city employees had been told about the possible change.

Board of works member Jason Hyer asked about the decade-long time period and whether there was a policy about how often the contract should be reviewed.

Logston said this was the first time the health care administrative contract had been re-examined in 10 years.

The contract with SIHO does require a 90-day notification if a change is going to be made and the contract is not being renewed, Logston said.

Board of Works member Bob Crider said he did not understand why the board didn’t have a recommendation from the insurance committee. Board member Caleb Tennis said he would be more comfortable making a decision with a committee recommendation.

Mayor Kristen Brown favored the board selecting Dunn & Associates, saying the city staff had spent a significant amount of time working on the project and the city has had significant experience with the company.

She added that all the committee members and the board of works members had the information that had been submitted by the companies.

But Logston then said that only the insurance committee members who attended the meeting had the information.

The board asked Logston to set up a special meeting of the insurance committee seeking its recommendation before making a decision.

When Brown questioned whether the city could meet the 90-day notification clause, Logston said that the city could work with SIHO as long as it was within a few days of the 90-day window and come to an agreement if the city decided to make a change.

The insurance committee meeting is being scheduled for sometime before next Tuesday, which is the next Board of Works meeting, and is a public meeting.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.