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Committee discusses employee health insurance

Six months in, the health insurance plan for Unicoi County employees is performing well, a broker said last week.
Jon Manfull, a broker with Mark III Employee Benefits, presented an update on the county’s medical plan to the Unicoi County Employee Benefits/Salary/Policy Committee during a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 13.
County employees are insured by BlueCrossBlueShield of Tennessee. This plan started on July 1, 2014 and will continued until June 30, 2015. County employees were insured through Humana during the 2013-2014 fiscal year; however, an estimated 13-percent increase in the cost of the insurance plan with Humana led the county to change to BlueCross beginning July 1, 2014, Manfull told the committee.
“We were able to move to BlueCross and had about a 2-percent decrease in cost,” he added.
Manfull presented the committee with information on the plan experience with BlueCross for July through December 2014, which detailed the amount of premiums and total claims paid for that time frame.
“The plan is running extremely well right now,” he said. “We usually have adverse claims years, but right now, the plan is running well.”
Manfull also said that because county employees have not had any “significant claims,” such as a heart attack or a premature birth since July this has kept the cost down.
“(Significant claims” are what drive the cost of your healthcare,” he added. “Right now, thankfully, the health of the (employee) population has been good. … I’m cautiously optimistic looking forward to the renewal in July. Hopefully, the plan will continue to run as is and we won’t be looking at significant increases in costs and having to shop the plan, change carriers again, increasing deductibles … hopefully we don’t have to go down that path this year.”
Manfull also told the committee that county employee inpatient admissions are fewer than the same time span the previous year. He also said that 88 percent of the prescriptions being purchased by county employees are generic.
“Total paid claims per member, per month are currently at $167.75, which is a great indicator that the plan is running well,” Manfull said. “The norm for BlueCross for a group this size is $316.55.”
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The process of choosing county employee health insurance coverage for the 2015-2016 fiscal year will begin when BlueCross provides Manfull with the figures the County Commission will need for budgetary purposes.
“It will be the last week of April or the first week of May when I will get the hard numbers from BlueCross,” Manfull said. “I know it’s tough when it comes to budgeting. I know you need those numbers as soon as possible.”
Manfull also reviewed the BlueCross plan designs available to county employees with the committee. County employees were given the option to choose between two plan designs – a low deductible and a high deductible plan.
According to information Manfull shared with the committee, 88 county employees opted for the individual coverage lower deductible plan. The cost of this plan per month is $533.57 – $520 of which is paid by the county. The remaining $13.57 is paid by the employee
Nine individuals chose family coverage, lower deductible plan. The cost per month for this plan is $1,393.44. The county funds up to $1,111.82 per month and the employee pays $281.62 per month.
No employees chose the individual coverage, higher deductible plan, according to Manfull’s information.
Nine employees chose family coverage on the higher deductible plan. The monthly cost for this plan is $988.56 – all of which is funded by the county.
According to the information distributed by Manfull, the total annual cost of employee insurance is $820.705.92. This includes both the county’s and employees’ contributions.
Using the information provided to the committee, The Erwin Record calculated that of the $820,705.92, employees pay $44,744.88, while the county pays $775,961.04.
Until the figures from BlueCross become available, Manfull said the commission could use the figures above as a guideline for the 2015-2016 budget.
“Can the budget continue to handle that going forward into the new year or do you need to make adjustments,” he added. “Those are the figures you will need to work with.”
The committee requested that Manfull meet with county employees to review their insurance options in order to give them more information before they choose their health insurance plan for the next fiscal year. Manfull said he would be happy to meet with the employees. The date of the meeting will be announced in the future.
Members of the Employee Benefits/Salary/Policy Committee are Bridget Peters, chairwoman, Jason Harris and Walter Garland. Other commissioners, several officeholders and county employees were in attendance at the meeting.