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County sees rising health care claims


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One issue being carefully examined in 2015 Bartholomew County Council budget deliberations is health care costs.

Last December, higher-than-anticipated medical claims among the county’s 365 employees forced the self-funded Bartholomew County government to tap into its rainy day funds to keep the county’s insurance trust fund solvent.

While $2.4 million was placed into the insurance benefit trust fund for 2014, expenses are still exceeding available funds, Barb Hackman, county auditor, said.

 

As of the end of July, only $290,000 was left in the fund, the auditor said.

“Because of that, we’re looking at re-evaluating the contribution of the employees, as well as their employer,” Hackman said. “We haven’t had an increase (in employee and employer contributions) in several years.”

Although the county commissioners predict employee contributions will go up 1.5 percent next year, the council may adjust that figure during their deliberations, Hackman said.

“There’s no wrongdoing or mismanagement,” county commissioners chairman Carl Lienhoop told the council. “Blame it on getting old. Cancer has also reared its ugly head among our employees.”

County workers pay between $15 and $60 each pay period for health insurance, with deductibles ranging from $750 for those on a single plan to $2,500 maximum for those enrolled in a family plan, Hackman said.

Those levels of deductibles are lower than required in most private industry health insurance plans, she said.

While the bulk of the money for health insurance comes from the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax funds, rather than property taxes, other funding sources are used to pay the employer contribution in a few departments, the auditor said.

Exact details of the current health care claims or the affected employees are confidential due to the Health Insurance Privacy Act, Hackman said.

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