Howard school board rescinds United Healthcare contract

The Howard County Board of Education Thursday terminated its contract with United Healthcare, officially backing out of a Medicare Advantage Health Benefits plan that many retirees had criticized.

The board voted unanimously to rescind the contract award entirely and start the contract bidding process over again for a replacement to the existing self-funded Medicare Supplement plans for eligible retirees.

A Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D benefits from United Healthcare was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, but the board decided to suspend that contract for a year after retirees said the plan wasn’t accepted by medical providers in the area, and that the coverage was less than what they had under their previous plans through CareFirst and Aetna.

The decision to postpone the UHC rollout allowed retirees to stay on their CareFirst and Aetna plans while the Howard County Public School System worked out its issues with UHC. UHC was to have come back in the spring with a revised proposal, but according to a report given to the board, “the current rates offered would have to be evaluated and most likely changed based on the most current 2014 claims analysis. Allowing (UHC) the opportunity to adjust rates ... would be equivalent to a noncompetitive quote.”

However, said the system’s purchasing director Doug Pindell, UHC is still eligible to submit another proposal in the new contract bidding process.

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