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Genesee County chooses Independent Health

Independent Health Association has won a contract to be the sole health insurance provider for Genesee County, adding 1,900 employees and retirees to its membership.

The Williamsville-based health insurer signed a one-year agreement with the county and its unions, effective Oct. 1, to administer the county's self-funded employee medical benefits plan. The plan design includes no referrals for specialty care and no need to designate a primary care physician.

This is the latest win for Independent Health, which has also added the West Seneca School District, Quebecor and the Sweet Home School District to its roster in the last year.

The insurer has been losing membership in recent years, largely because both Erie County and the City of Buffalo opted to go with rival HealthNow New York as sole health insurer.

The company, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year, is the region's second-largest health insurer, with more than 350,000 members.

It has been struggling to overcome an image that it is still just an HMO, even though it now offers more than 30 insurance products. It's also recently won accolades for its customer service from J.D. Power & Associates, Consumer Reports and the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

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