At the beginning of February, the county's insurance committee met
to review health insurance renewal options. It came as little
surprise that the renewal premium through Health Alliance going up,
The current base plan offered to county employees is a
point of service plan, known as a POS-C. Of the $438 per month
premium per employee, the county pays $415 and the employee pays
Earlier this month, Health Alliance representative Jodi Dacer
explained that the county has experienced a high number of
catastrophic illnesses in the recent years and has continued to have
high claims in this past year. Five of the claims were over $20,000,
and based on diagnoses, those expenses are projected to continue.
As a result, the insurance rates would need to be increased 25
percent, with the proposed renewal rate going to $548.
Using a figure of 108 employees at an increase of $133 per
employee, per month, the county would be looking at over $172,000
added cost next year.
Committee members discussed the matter at length with the
county's insurance consultant, Nancy Schaub of Roger Garrett
Schaub offered, "Because we are a broker, we go out and do the
best job for you. We take direction from you."
She also said that there are fewer companies to choose from now
due to buyouts, mergers, closings and some companies specializing.
Given difficult financial times, the committee determined that
they would like to look at all the options they might have available
and then bring representatives of the county employees in on the
The committee asked Schaub to get other bids for them to review
on Feb. 28.
After 2 1/2 hours of discussion Tuesday evening, the committee
determined that it liked the three options offered by Blue Cross and
Then on Wednesday evening, the committee presented those options
to the insurance advisory committee.
Insurance committee chairman Jan Schumacher thanked those who
were present and recalled that the insurance advisory committee was
formed to give county employees an opportunity to have input on
About 35 representatives from every department, including the
sheriff, highway, clerk and recorder, 911 dispatch, circuit clerk,
health department, county board, state's attorney's office and
emergency management were present. They were encouraged to ask
questions and take the proposed information back to their fellow
Schumacher began: "We've been troubled with high claims. When you
have a number of high claims, that affects your situation. No matter
who you go with, we still have high claims."
Schaub was once again on hand to answer questions and explain the
proposed plans. She began by explaining some of the process in
choosing an insurer from what is available.
"We want to make sure that you can go to the doctors and
hospitals that you want to go to," she said. "Also it is important
that you go with an insurance company that is financially sound.
"There are only four choices that write this type of insurance:
Health Alliance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Health Care and
Humana," she said.
Humana did not offer a proposal.
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In all three options that were presented, employees have three
choices to buy upward to get a lower deductible in every plan.
Option A base has a $5,000 deductible. The county would provide
the full cost of the $363.21 premium. This plan would offer
substantial savings to the county as the premium is even lower than
the current plan.
Option B base has a $3,500 deductible. The county would pay the
same premium as it does presently, $415, but the employee would not
be expected to pay anything.
Option C, is the same plan as Option B, but the $415 premium is
split, with the county paying $392, and the employee would continue
to pay the same as they do now: $23 per month.
The point of offering Option C is to give the employees the
opportunity to possibly help keep more of the insurance cost to the
"If we can't contain (insurance) costs, the next thing would be
to cut budgets, and that would mean jobs," Schumacher said.
She added that paying the full premium helps level the playing
field between union and nonunion employees.
Committeeman Kevin Bateman roughly estimated that Option A would
save just under $78,000 in a year, which could possibly mean two
He said, "We're looking at a $400,000 hole, deficit, to fill in
the budget for next year." And, he added, "This year's department
budgets are running over, and revenues are not coming in as
As discussions wound down, a woman from the health department was
first to say, "I'd be willing to give up, if that money was going to
save someone's job."
Sally Litterly, county clerk and recorder, said, "We're willing
to do whatever we have to do."
She said she needs every one of the four remaining employees left
in her office. Without any one of them, core services would be lost
Litterly said that she's not opposed to a higher deductible plan.
She had one before, and most years it doesn't take long to meet the
Insurance advisory committee representatives were asked to return
to the insurance committee with feedback on March 8.
The new year of insurance coverage begins on May 1. A decision
will need to be made at the March adjourned session of the county