Unique health care arrangement growing in popularity in Pa.

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 22, 2016 2:45 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Many municipalities in Pennsylvania have faced tight budgets year after year.

Health insurance can be one of the biggest expenses, and a unique arrangement that can cut costs is becoming more popular.

From 2012 until now, the Pennsylvania Municipal Health Insurance Cooperative has added about 60 members.

Pottsville in Schuylkill County is one of the latest to commit and is set to join next year.

It allows cities, townships and boroughs to self-fund their health insurance.

That means if employees use less services in a year compared to what a municipality budgeted, it can actually get money back.

"Self-funding can be very risky because large companies have large large reserves to bank to pay the claims as they come in. We've developed this model and by bringing all the groups together, we can do this safely for them," says Fred Bean a vice president at Benecon, which runs the Cooperative.

He says it's grown from 90 members when it started in 2006 to about 260 now.

"The hallmark of our program is that we hardly ever lose a group. Since the program started, we have a retention rate of about 99%. So from the standpoint of the actual employee, the only thing they see is a Capital Blue Cross card or Highmark card," says Bean.

Bean says since 2006, the cooperative has returned nearly $118 million back to municipalities.

He says it's pretty well-known in central Pennsylvania, and has been adding municipalities near Pittsburgh.

It's largest member in Lower Merion Township, in southeastern PA.

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