County's health insurance rates projected to rise

Cathy May, Contributing Writer

There will be an increase in the cost of the county’s insurance premium for its employees this year. Just how much is yet to be decided.

John Gaus, the commissioners’ consultant on insurance, gave a lengthy presentation on the options for the county at their November 5 meeting. This year, 2007, the cost to have 109 employees in the health insurance plan from Anthem is about $941,500.

Gaus gave the commissioners options from Anthem, their present provider, and also Humana. Although many other insurance companies were asked to submit bids on insurance, most declined citing the group’s age and high claim experience as factors.

Two years ago when the commissioners selected Anthem, the county’s loss ratio was 46%, today it is 107%. Gaus explained that when there is a business with little turnover in employees, the average age is higher. The county’s average age of insurer is 44, where it is about 34 in other businesses.

Gaus brought with him Jim Schneider, a representative from Humana to explain their health plan. In it, employees would have an option of traditional health insurance or a Coverage First Plan. That is where there is a $500 credit card to be spent on medical bills before the deductible kicks in. This is a good option for those who have little medical expenses. Gaus explained that 45% of employees don’t go over the deductible and never get the use of the insurance they purchase. “This Coverage First Plan would be a good option for them,” said Gaus.

If all employees chose the Traditional Plan, the cost to the county would be $1,168,467 per year. If everyone chose the Coverage First Plan, the cost to the county would be $990,050. Since there is no way to know at this time which plan employees would choose, the exact cost could not be established.

The commissioners wanted to review the plans and asked Gaus to come back to the next meeting when they hope to make a decision.

In other business, Surveyor Jeff French and Keith Abbott appeared before the commissioners regarding a maintenance issue on Base Line Road. Abbott purchased a tract of land at auction and was told the county maintains the section of road in front of his property.

After the survey, he discovered the county does not maintain the road. Abbott was told the road would have to be brought up to county specs and maintained for a year before the county would take it over. All parties involved will meet at the property to look at the road in question.

All three commissioners were in attendance: Robert Reiners, Chuck Folz and Lawrence Nickell. County Auditor Mary Ann McCoy was present to advise the commissioners. The next meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners will be held on Monday, November 19 at 8:00 a.m. at the commissioners’ room of the Ripley County annex.