FARMINGTON — Thanks to a little friendly competition, Davis County will get a break on insurance costs for its employees over the next year.

The county had been bracing for a 9.5 percent increase in health insurance premiums, meaning it would have spent $717,000 between July and June 2009.

But because the county's personnel department recently sought bids for all of its insurance programs — health, life, dental and long-term disability — for the 726 county employees who have their health insurance through the county, the county's insurance provider offered a flat rate from the previous year's contract.

For further savings, the county also will eliminate one of the health plans it carries, even though nearly half of the employees are enrolled in it.

The Preferred Plan, as it is called, is more expensive than the other two plans and doesn't offer the same value, said Mel Miles, the county's personnel director.

The other two plans, Summit and Advantage, formerly didn't have the same network of primary care providers that Preferred has, but the two have grown their networks so that employees who have to switch shouldn't see any difference in care, Miles said.

Eliminating the Preferred plan means the county will realize a savings of about $800,000 for the July-June contract year.

The $36,000 Davis County spent for a consultant to help save $1.5 million was money well spent, Miles said.

The county will also be able to offer vision care for its employees, which it hasn't done before, Miles said.

Miles said the county has been very happy with Public Employees Health Program (PEHP), but because it had been 15 to 17 years since the county last bid out insurance coverage, he was relieved to see PEHP offer a better deal.

But a few switches are in the works. Dental care now comes through Dental Select. Life insurance, which had been through First Colonial, will now be covered by Prudential, and so will long-term disability.

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