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County looks at insurance cap

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
[email protected]
Members of the Unicoi County Commission indicated they would likely vote to choose a new insurance provider as well as set a cap on the amount of money paid toward county employee insurance during a work session on Monday night.
It was stated at a previous meeting that the county currently pays 100 percent of 105 employees’ individual insurance premiums. The county’s insurance broker, Jon Manfull, previously explained that with the current provider, BlueCross/BlueShield, the county would face a 39.8 percent increase, which equals about $300,000.
On Monday, Manfull presented three more options for coverage to the commission.
The best deal Manfull found was through Humana, estimating that the county would still pay an 11.99 percent increase if they switched. “The current trend in insurance premium increases are around 10-12 percent,” he said. The deductibles for both policies – family and individual – would increase as well.
The commission was also presented with the option to have insurance through the state, but restrictions and obligations were unfavorable. According to Manfull, to be included in the state’s insurance plan, which has insurance providers to choose from as well, the commission would need to apply 60 days before the plan is to be in effect, which is July 1 for the county. The commission would also have to take into consideration that the plan would be permanent for two years, said Manfull.
Commissioners unanimously told Chairperson Sue Jean Wilson they would more than likely vote for a cap on the insurance paid out to the employees, but how much was unclear. Commissioner Doug Bowman said that paying the cost of employee insurance has been a courtesy the county provided for several years now.
“We had no idea insurance was going to raise in cost like it did,” said Commissioner Bill Hensley. “If you wanted to get a vote right now, I could not. I don’t feel like I have enough information.”
Capping the amount paid by the county at the most basic plan an insurance provider could offer and requiring individuals to pay for more coverage was an option discussed at the meeting. A fixed amount of $500 was also discussed by Commissioner Loren Thomas, who said it would be beneficial to know exactly how much they would be paying each year in insurance.
Currently the county pays around $547 each month for an employee’s coverage. The suggested cap would mean employees would pay roughly $22 out of each paycheck toward insurance coverage.
For the remainder of this article please pick up the June 5, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record.