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Unicoi County Commission chooses state insurance plan for employees

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County Commission has come to an agreement regarding employee insurance for the upcoming fiscal year.

During a meeting on Monday, May 4, the county’s governing body voted unanimously to accept a bid for the State of Tennessee Insurance plan for medical insurance for the 2020-2021 budget year.

The unanimous vote came following a motion to approve from Commissioner Matthew Rice and a second by Commissioner John Mosley.

“My wife retired early as a teacher and we were able to opt in on that insurance, and it is very good; it was a great option and it will give our employees more choices,” Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely said. “It has great options and it will give our employees more choices,”

The commission vote came after a presentation by Mark III Employee Benefits representative John Manful who expressed urgency in selecting a plan.

“I know the state is looking for this to be completed soon; they usually require a 60-day notice before changing insurance,” Manful said. “I know you guys have done a tremendous job looking out for both the employees and the taxpayers.”

According to Manful, the need to change insurance came after Blue Cross/Blue Shield denied a request to keep the plans the same.

“Blue Cross/Blue Shield refused to keep the plan we have currently given all of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19,” Manful said. “Their counteroffer was for a 22.89 percent increase, so we put it out for bid immediately. After all of the bids came back they were all increased so we looked at the state plan which is a 1.29 percent increase.”

Manful acknowledged that the state plan is currently used by other municipalities and school systems.

“It’s great because it creates a larger pool working with other municipalities and school systems,” Manful said.

The previous Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan was $8,000 for a family deductible, according to Manful. The current individual deductible from BlueCross/BlueShield would charge a $4,000 individual deductible.

“The Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan has a $30 dollar co-pay for a visit with your primary care doctor, a $50 dollar co-pay for a specialist and a 30 percent co-insurance, which means after someone meets their deductible, Blue Cross will kick in and pay 70 percent,” Manful said.

Manful acknowledged that the state plan would be very comparable to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Plan.

“You would have a similar 30, 50, 30 ($30 co-pay $50 co-pay and 30 percent post deductible charge) plan and the premium will just be 1.29 percent increase from the current plan,” Manful said of that state plan.

According to Manful, the new plan will start on July 1. The county will keep its current dental plan with Ameritas.