Commissioners discuss insurance impasse


The matter of some local doctors no longer being in the United Healthcare network was once again brought into discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.

While representatives with United Healthcare were present to discuss results from this year’s health surveys and biometric assessments taken by county employees insured by the carrier, commissioner Shane Wilkin brought up the concerns of the board in regard to the nearly 20 local doctors no longer in the United Healthcare network.

Brandy Gause with United Healthcare said that things between the providers and the insurance carrier were “pretty much at a standstill.”

She said that United Healthcare had “a competitive number on the table.” The doctors, she said, were “not willing to negotiate at all.”

“The dollars staying here is very important to us,” Wilkin said.

He noted the “difficult decision” made by commissioners weeks ago about the county staying with United Healthcare, even without some HDH-affiliated doctors being within the insurance carrier’s network, versus paying higher premiums to go with a new carrier.

David Brown with Brown Raybourn, the county’s health insurance broker, said that for those insured by United Healthcare, “It’s not really an access to care issue. The issue becomes, we want to support our community.”

Brown said, “Our concern here is your employees.”

Belinda McCollum, also with Brown Raybourn, broke down the number of in-network providers available in the area, which in a 30-mile radius was more than 5,000. But, she said if United Healthcare and the local doctors no longer in the network could come together and negotiate, it would benefit all involved.

Gause and Stephanie Curtan, also with United Healthcare, said they would relay the feedback to the carrier.

As previously reported by The Times-Gazette, as of Aug. 1 nearly 20 local doctors with Highland District Hospital’s Professional Services Corporation are no longer part of the United Healthcare network. The doctors said it’s because United’s reimbursement rates have not been increased in six years, with current rates averaging 12 percent lower than Medicare rates as well as the rates paid by most other commercial health insurance carriers.

A flier from the doctors’ organization describing their decision to opt out of the United Healthcare network says that among the doctors no longer participating in the United network will be those with Highland Family Medicine, Highland Family Healthcare, Lynchburg Medical Center, Greenfield Medical Services, Physicians for Women, Highland Neurology, Southern Ohio Psychiatric Associates, Highland Pulmonology, Highland Gastroenterology, Highland Advanced Orthopedic and Cancer Care.

The hospital itself, including lab work and other services, will remain part of the United Healthcare network, as will emergency room doctors and outpatient specialists not listed above.

In other business, Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins reported that since June her office has collected about $57,000 in delinquent funds from assessments associated with the sewer system at Rocky Fork Lake.

Kathryn Allen with the prosecutor’s office sent out about 200 letters starting in June, Collins said, and about 85 people have come into the office and paid their debt off or worked out a contract to get it paid within five years.

Allen works with those who are delinquent to craft payment plans that work for them.

Allen said that “most of the time they are happy to know there is a way” out of debt. She said a lot of times once people get behind they don’t know that there is a way out of the debt.

A second round of letters is getting ready to go out, Allen said, to those who did not respond to the first round.

On another matter, Highland County Veterans Service Commission Director Brian Fox and commission member Gary Smaltz, who were also accompanied by other commission staff and members, provided the results of the commission’s 2014 annual report which was recently received, Smaltz said.

According to the report provided there are 3,524 veterans in Highland County, and last year the commission served approximately 2,300 of them. Last year more than $28.7 million in federal money was awarded to veterans in the county and the commission spent $312,681 county dollars, which works out to more than $91 to veterans for every county dollar spent. The commission spent less than 92 percent of its .5-mil budget, returning $28,415 back to the county coffers.

The Highland County Veteran Service Commission provides a number of services to veterans. The commission is located at the Hi-Tec building in Hillsboro, 1575 N. High St., Suite 400, and can be reached by phone at 937-393-8686.

Commissioners were reminded that the fourth annual Veterans Golf Outing will be held Sunday, Aug. 16 at the Hillsboro Elks Golf Course. Honor Guard memorial services start at noon and tee time is 1 p.m. The cost is $160 per team, and food, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will provided. The cost to sponsor a hole is $50. For more information call 937-393-3047.

Two bids were opened for the Homestead Avenue resurfacing project. One bid from Miller-Mason Paving was for $30,225, while the second from Cox Paving was for $36,184. The bids will be reviewed prior to the awarding of a contract, Wilkin said.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

Highland County Veterans Service Commission members Ray Alexander, left, and Gary Smaltz, center, along with commission director Brian Fox, right, are pictured during Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners. County Veterans Service Commission members Ray Alexander, left, and Gary Smaltz, center, along with commission director Brian Fox, right, are pictured during Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
Veteran commission provides 2014 report

By Angela Shepherd

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