Supervisors weigh options as health insurance costs climb
By Dwayne Bremer
Apr 1, 2014, 17:44
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday did not vote on changes to its county employees insurance plans, but rather discussed additional options which may allow employees to keep their spouses covered on the county's healthcare plan.
Last week, supervisors considered dropping spouses from county insurance plans in order to save about $800,000.
After additional research, Fox/Everett, the county's insurance provider, on Monday gave supervisors some alternatives.
The best alternative would be switching from a self-insured plan to a full-coverage plan, officials said.
By switching to a full-coverage plan, the county would pay a set rate for insurance coverage instead of paying according to the amount of claims.
"I'm in favor of full coverage," board Vice-President Steve Seymour said. "It will help us set a budget instead of playing the guessing game."
Last year, supervisors budgeted $2.5 million for insurance; however, the county has nearly reached that amount with two months remaining in the contract.
Diane Moore of Fox/Everett said Monday that next year's claims estimates are in excess of $3 million, meaning the county would either have to pay more for insurance or cut certain services to save the balance.
Moore said United Health Care has given the county a quote for $2.33 million for full coverage.
If the county accepts the plan, it would pay the $2.33 million even if claims are well below that amount.
"This would transfer the risk to the insurance carrier," Seymour said. "Right now, we are taking the risk and it is hurting us."
If the county accepts the full coverage option, it will still be able to keep spouses on employees' plans; however, employee contributions may go up slightly, officials said.
Moore said there would be a four-tier approach to insurance plans.
The tiers include individual coverage; employee and spouse; employee and children; and full family, she said.
Currently, 254 county employees are signed up for the plan, 94 of whom have spouses covered.
Employees who have individual coverage contribute $45 per month and family plans cost employee $205 each per month. The county picks up the rest of the tab.
If the county were to go "fully-covered," the number of employees in the plan would determine the rates.
Moore said initial numbers show the employee contributions could go up about $40 a month.
Moore said insurance coverage has become increasingly complex in recent years.
"It is a big challenge, but we have to look at what is best for Hancock County," she said.
Supervisors said Monday they need a little bit more time to crunch the numbers and asked Moore to return for the board's next meeting on April 7.
Supervisors said they wanted answers to other questions such as deductible increases and physician coverage before making a final decision.
Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar said he was pleased that Fox/Everett was able to present the board with different options.
"This shows that you have explored everything available," he said.