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Article published November 5, 2012
COGCare making strides
Health co-op adds members
COGCare, a nonprofit health insurance cooperative created to serve Councils of Governments (COGs) in Western Pennsylvania, is gaining favor with municipalities. Since COGCare rolled out its insurance program in July 2011 in partnership with UPMC Health Plan, more than 50 municipalities have signed on, according to a COG news release. COGCare recently conducted a survey of its member municipalities. Of 31 municipalities that responded, the average first year savings was 26 percent. The combined first year savings for these government entities, most which are small employers, was $1.1 million. The projected three-year savings is more than $4.2 million, assuming they receive the maximum rate increase allowed under the COGCare rate guarantees versus no increase over the renewal rates from the prior carriers prior to adopting COGCare and UPMC Health Plan. Through COGCare, more than 400 municipalities and government entities in 23 counties in Western Pennsylvania have access to preferred rates and multi-year rate cap guarantees for health insurance, the release said. COGCare was formed by Jeff Smith, president of the COGCare board and executive director of the Butler County Council of Governments. “One of the main purposes that COGs serve is to combine the resources of many municipalities to have greater negotiation strength,” said Smith in the release. Smith also is the city treasurer in Butler, “The cost of health insurance is a major budget concern for every municipality, large or small. I’m not surprised at all by the early success,” he said. Smith and the Butler County Council of Governments spearheaded the formation of COGCare along with members of the Beaver County Regional Council of Governments, the Lawrence County Regional Council of Governments, and the Pennsylvania Association of Council of Governments. “Many municipalities have not felt like they have had a meaningful alternative before. Those that have taken advantage of COGCare are saving real dollars at a time when their budgets have no room for cost increases.”