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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Premium increases kept to a minimum

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paul Sinders
While health insurance costs continue to rise, Clay County officials have been able to keep the effect on its employees to a minimum.

During a special meeting Friday, the Clay County Commissioners reviewed details of the new plan with Cathy Dunn, president of Dunn and Associates Benefit Administrators, Inc., Columbus, Ind.

According to Dunn, premiums on the county's health insurance will be up 5 percent heading into the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"The projected average increase in the cost of medical care in 2011 is more than 11.5 percent," Commissioner Paul Sinders told The Brazil Times about the plan, which has a two-year term. "I have even seen some areas have their premiums going up by 20 percent or more, so we are fortunate to be able to limit our increase to 5 percent."

Sinders added the majority of the plan's benefits will remain the same, including the ability to purchase a 90-day prescription from a local pharmacy, rather than mail order.

However, Dunn said changes have been made to the plan to be in compliance with regulations in the Health Care Reform Bill that also begin July 1.

"One of the big changes is that there are no longer lifetime limits," she said. "For now, those limits are moved to annual, and will go away in 2014, provided no modifications are made between now and then."

She added another big change is the age in which an employee may provide coverage for an "Adult Child."

"According to the new laws, an 'Adult Child' may remain on their parents' insurance plan until their 26th birthday," Dunn told the commissioners. "It no longer matters if they are a full-time student, live at home, are married or a tax dependent. However, if they are employed and have the ability to sign up for their own health insurance, the parent/employee may choose not to enroll them onto their plan."

Along with the increase in premiums, deductibles were also increased for those on an individual plan (from $500 to $600) or family plan ($1,500 to $1,800) per calendar year. In addition, the cost of utilizing an emergency room for a non-emergency visit was also raised from $125 to $150.

However, officials were also able to increase benefits in a couple of areas.

For both dental and vision, the benefit coverage limit was increased from $350 to $400.

"We also encourage our employees to get an annual check-up each year, along with utilizing other preventative health care measures," Sinders said. "I am proud that we were able to retain the $500 limit to allow employees the opportunity to have an annual physical, plus other routine check-ups and immunizations, with no deductible."

After reviewing all the details of the plan, Sinders made a blanket motion to approve the 5-percent increase in premiums, the amendment detailing new requirements of the Health Care Reform Bill, Alliance/Madison National as the Reinsurance Carrier for the Specific Excess Loss Policy and the notice which will go to each county employee regarding the changes in the plan.

Commissioner Jack Withers seconded the motion, with carried with a unanimous vote.

Meanwhile, the commissioners signed off on a consulting contract, which will allow construction on one of the Federal Bridge Projects to begin.

Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said regulations allow a consulting firm to charge up to 15 percent of the construction costs, but Clark Dietz, Inc., Indianapolis, called for a maximum of 12.5 percent in its contract proposal.

She added the letting for the construction has been completed and the project is ready to begin once the contract is in place.

Sinders made the motion, which was seconded by Withers and passed with a 3-0 vote.

The next meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be 9 a.m., Tuesday, July 5, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.

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