Cole County Employee Benefit Plan for 2023

The Cole County Commission is looking to save about $500,000 next year on pharmacy expenses.

The potential savings are the result of the board’s approval of a motion to change the Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) for its employee insurance plan.

The current PBM is Optum Rx, but after Tuesday’s commission meeting, the county will use Smith Rx in 2023.

The change was recommended by Randy Lueckenotte, the chief executive of Wallstreet Group, which advises the county on its employee insurance programs. Lueckenotte said there were 5,054 pharmacy claims made by county employees from September 1, 2021 through August. 31, 2022. Prices for these claims made under Optum Rx were compared to prices Smith Rx would offer under a proposed contract with the county, Lueckenotte said. The analysis predicted a nearly 60% decrease in pharmacy spending under Smith Rx, a savings of approximately $506,000.

According to Lueckenotte, Smith Rx charges a $30,000 administration fee, unlike Optum Rx, but that would be offset by the county receiving 100% of the pharmacy rebates. He said the money received from rebates would increase from $90,000 with Optum Rx to over $300,000 with Smith Rx.

Lueckenotte also told the commission that Smith Rx offers members mail-order prescriptions and a patient assistance program that could help save additional money.

The change was unanimously approved by the committee.

The commission also renewed the county’s health insurance plan with UMR and United Healthcare, and its life, dental and vision plan with Sun Life. The commission delayed renewing its stop-loss, or excess insurance, contract with Sun Life until prices could be compared across the market. Stop-loss insurance places a fixed limit on the amount the county spends on deductibles, with the insurer paying any amount over that limit. Lueckenotte recommended waiting to renew the contract until price comparisons for October come back from other companies so the county can get the best deal.

The committee also approved a motion to leave employee insurance costs unchanged from last year, except for a 50-cent-per-month increase in vision plan costs, which are voluntary.

New business at the meeting included the approval of several purchases by Cole County Public Works. The purchases approved were:

• Two pickup trucks for $102,086.

• A signal truck for $210,263.

• Three tandem dump trucks; one for 2023 for $263,790 and two more for 2024 for $262,930.

In other cases, the committee:

• Approved the signing of a grant application for the Local Assistance and Tribal Coherence Fund (LATCF).

• Approval of an addendum to the Newman Comley Ruth agreement allocating additional funds for legal services.

• Authorized signing of nine sub-recipient agreements with various county entities.

• Awarded Vets Securing America the contract for unarmed security guard services for the courthouse. His bid was $120,328.

In unfinished business, the commission approved the signing of a report on GEMT reimbursement costs for the 2019-20 financial year which was found to be incomplete during an audit.

Before entering a closed session to discuss personnel issues, Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman announced that the 2022 Cole County Plat book is now available. The book costs $35, cash or check, and is available at the offices of the Assessor, Recorder, County Clerk, and Public Works.

A free PDF download of the book is available on the county’s website at

The meeting can be seen on

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