County may see rise in health costs

Preliminary health insurance proposals for Bartholomew County government employees would roughly double both a worker’s contribution and the annual deductible.

The proposals for the self-insured county, described as worst-case scenarios, were outlined Monday by County Commissioners Chairman Larry Kleinhenz during a work session of the Bartholomew County Council.

Currently, county employee contributions cover about 7 percent of the plan’s cost health care costs. But the proposals would raise that to about 15 percent, Kleinhenz said.

A variety of health insurance options are available to the county’s 440 full-time employees with the cost based on factors such as the number of people covered, deductible amounts and employee contributions.

But as an example, Kleinhenz said someone who has a family plan who now pays $60 per paycheck would pay $120 to $130 next year. At the same time, deductibles for that same family coverage would go from $2,500 to $4,000, he said.

“That’s a pretty good jump at once,” he said.

Battling high claims

Last year, unexpectedly high claims paid by the self-insured county totaled $5.7 million, which prompted county officials to allocate an additional $3.1 million for health cares costs in 2014.In contrast, the health care trust fund had more than $300,000 in it at the beginning of this month, county Auditor Barb Hackman said.While the amount spent in claims varies from month to month, the county’s goal is to raise that balance to at least $2 million, Kleinhenz said.

Since proposals are still be developed and further savings are being sought, no decisions regarding implementation have been made.

“But if there’s any changes from this, it won’t be much,” Kleinhenz said.

Another option being developed would allow employees to pay less out of their paychecks in exchange for a higher deductible, Kleinhenz said.

While prescription benefits will be largely unchanged, incentives will be provided to persuade employees to buy generic drugs, he said.

In return for paying higher amounts for their health care, the county is working to provide employees with 10 annual visits to the WellConnect health and wellness facility compared with the current five, Kleinhenz said.

Efforts are also ongoing with Columbus Regional Hospital to obtain deeper discounts in exchange for using the hospital’s medical facilities, he said.

Currently, the local hospital receives about $1.7 million of health care funds, followed by Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and St. Vincent Jennings Hospital in North Vernon, Kleinhenz said.

County keeping administrator

Dunn and Associates of Columbus will continue to serve as the administrator of the county’s health care plan next year.Its bid of $108,000 — the lowest of five submitted — was $59,000 less than what was submitted by the second-lowest bidder, MedBen Health Benefits of Ohio.Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the highest bidder at $300,000, according to proposals opened Monday by the county commissioners.

In addition, many of the bidders traditionally keep most or all prescription rebates, but Dunn and Associates returns all rebate money back to the county, commissioner Rick Flohr said.

Money paid to health care administrators account for about 3 percent of the county’s total health costs, Flohr said.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.