The process was quite arduous this year, after it was found that the
premiums with the current insurer, Health Alliance, would be going
up 25 percent. Given that increase, coupled with no known new
revenues, it is fully expected that there may not be the funds to
cover such a cost in the next fiscal year, beginning Dec 1.
The committee rejected Health Alliance's renewal offer, sought
other bids and proceeded to approach county employees with three
plan options from a different provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The basic choices were PPOs, one with a $5,000 deductible and the
county would provide the full cost of the $363.21 premium.
The other was a plan with a $3,500 deductible. The county would
pay the same premium as it does presently, $415, and the employee
would not be expected to pay anything.
An employee questioned, "Have you looked outside this area?" He
thought that getting a three-year rate might assist with the
catastrophic illnesses that push premiums up each year. He said
Central States Insurance offers three-year rates.
Jan Schumacher said: "I appreciate you bringing this forward, but
for tonight we don't have the time to look at that. This has a
limited time for this year."
Discussions often recognized that there is disparity between
union and nonunion employees on this issue. Unions are under
three-year contracts that include health insurance coverage.
Comments by both employees and a couple of committee members
sometimes strayed from the pointed matter at hand, which was to
decide what insurance plan would best meet the needs of county
employees. Some employees questioned the reality of the economic
concern; it was asked if there were other financial options open to
the county; and a few challenged some past budget decisions made by
It was also argued that people employed in the private sector and
other government positions are being asked more often to pay more of
their own health insurance.
Cheryl Hedrick, from the emergency management office, countered
that many of Logan County's employees are paid below averages that
were presented for other government and private sector employees in
"The benefit working for the county used to be the insurance,"
One question came from an employee asking if there could be an
HMO offered by Blue Cross that employees could opt for.
"Yes," said Nancy Schaub, an insurance consultant at the meeting,
and that option was explored.
Then, someone asked if there weren't other options from Health
Alliance. That was the question that started the ball rolling. Other
Health Alliance options had been put aside after it was decided to
go with Blue Cross, in the second meeting when other bids were
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Bateman made the motion to recommend the following Health
Alliance plans, saying this would allow people to stay with the
doctors they want, just as they have now:
POS-C alternate, Option A:
$7,500 deductible, maximum out-of-pocket with copays: $20 doctor
visit, $40 specialist; $150 emergency room; $20, $40, $50
prescription; 100 percent applied copays to $7,500.
The county would cover 100 percent of the $427 premium per
employee per month. Other additions an employee can opt on: $769
with spouse, $727 with children, $1,067 per family. No health
savings accounts with this plan.
Option B, a buy-up plan:
$3,000 deductible, maximum out-of-pocket with copays.
$513 per month per employee; employee pays $50 per month. Other
additions an employee can opt on: $923 with spouse, $873 with
children, $1,282 per family.
At the beginning of the meeting, Andy Anderson said he had heard
there had been some question about the county spending money by
hiring a consultant.
Schaub, of Roger Garrett Insurance Agency, is an insurance broker
with far more experience than board members have in this matter and
better able to research the options on the county's behalf. The
county does not pay her to do this. Both Schumacher, who chairs the
committee, and Bateman strongly supported Anderson's appreciation of
what Schaub is able to do for the county, and their comments were
that she saves time as well.
The committee will make its recommendations to the full board
this evening, and the matter is expected to be voted on at the
adjourned meeting on March 21.
Past related article