Riverside County Official Seeks To Expand Health Insurance Program for County Workers
Riverside County Auditor-Controller Robert Byrd has requested a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and data manager ADP to analyze potential savings achieved by expanding Exclusive Care, a health insurance program administered by the county that reimburses physicians and medical facilities for services provided to some county employees, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Byrd is seeking to expand participation in the program to employees of San Bernardino County and some small businesses. The program currently includes 3,000 county employees and 2,000 contract in-home health workers. Byrd said that expanding the program would reduce health care costs, increase health care options for employees, strengthen the program's purchasing power and increase specialty physicians' willingness to participate in the program.
During the next few weeks, Byrd plans to present the plan to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and other agencies. He would not give an estimate of how much money the expanded program might save.
Byrd said, "This is about saving taxpayer dollars and providing more health care services to employees. When you have size, you get better attention."
Riverside County Medical Association Executive Director Dolores Green said, "If you could guarantee providers a certain volume, they might be willing to take a certain rate of reimbursement, but I highly doubt it would be less than what they are getting now in other HMO contracts."
Green said that another health insurance network formed by county employers disbanded after five years because it did not include sufficient incentives to lower patients' overall health care consumption.
San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker said, "There appears to be the potential for saving a substantial amount of money while increasing the levels of care" under the plan. Walker said that the proposal would "take a lot of effort and resources simply to analyze" because the proposed program is structured differently than traditional health insurance programs.
The report is expected to be delivered by May 31 (Trone, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/12).