stays with Health Alliance
Employees to heft slight cost difference
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[APRIL 20, 2005]
The county will
renew a health insurance agreement with the company that they have
been with, Health Alliance. Sara Schwantz, who brokers insurance,
made the recommendation to the insurance committee. Insurance chair
Gloria Luster said that Schwantz made the recommendation after
evaluating other insurance company programs and with consideration
for the county employees' needs.
The impact of changing insurance
weighed heavily in the decision to stay with the same company,
Schwantz said, since a change in companies often results in a change
of doctors and clinics. People get accustomed to their doctors and
it is difficult to change around.
A change in companies would create
more work too. Schwantz assists the county board secretary, JoAnne
Marlin, when county employees have insurance questions. It is
difficult to get accustomed to new programs, learning what is
covered and what is not.
And finally, the costs of comparable
insurance programs offered by other companies were within a few
dollars of the current recommendation as well.
A 14 percent increase was expected.
However, the bid came in lower at a 7 percent increase over last
The county renewed the HMO 310 plan at
$326 (last year's was $303) and the PPO 810 plan at $374 (last year's was $348)
per month per employee.
It was proposed last Thursday to
raise the employee cap. The cap sets the amount paid by the
employee, and it would be raised from $303 to $326 per employee per
month to meet the new cost. However, when the proposal was made it
was based on a cost difference that was a miscalculation. The figure
did not multiply the cost difference per employee for 12 months.
The new figure led to a change of
heart on Tuesday. "I don't think that the county can afford at this
time to hand $37,812 extra out," board member John Stewart said.
That amount is the corrected figure for the difference to raise the
cap to cover all 137 employees with full insurance coverage for one
year. It would cost an additional $22,056 to finish out this fiscal
year from May 1 to Nov. 30, Ruben said.
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The county is also now providing
health insurance for the Logan County Health Department employees.
That department normally covers its employees out of its own budget,
but the health department did not receive a levy this year. They are
included in the cap differential figures, Ruben said.
Ruben and Schwantz said that there
are options that would lower the monthly payment, and it could stay
below or near the current cap rate. There are policies that could be
chosen that offer higher deductibles, increased office visit co-pays
and out-of-pocket expenses. But it would cost the employees more if
they use those. Just a brief survey of the options clearly shows the
810 plan to be the best, Ruben said.
The employees will be picking up the
$23 per month difference between the policy and the cap. Gloria
Luster said that employees will actually pay $276 for their health
insurance policy for one year.
John Stewart reasoned that employees
got 3 percent raises last year when the consumer price index was
only 2.6 percent. So, it kind of equals out a little bit, he said.