Franklin County employees will see no increase in their health insurance premiums next year, and some will even see a decrease, officials say.
The county’s total employee health insurance plan for 2014 is expected to cost between $3.17 million and $3.28 million depending on the number of claims filed, officials say.
The county will cover 75 percent of that cost, and the rest will fall on the approximately 300 county employees who take the health insurance.
The cost of the new plan is close to the current plan, County Clerk Debbie Door said.
“If we can hold (the cost) in today’s environment that is really a blessing,” Door said.
The Franklin County Commission approved the health insurance proposal from UnitedHealthcare on Tuesday. County employees are currently insured by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
The county offers its employees a rich benefit package, said the county’s insurance broker, Scott Schroepfer of Washington.
Under the new plan, the deductible is actually $2,500, for a single employee, but the county will pay $2,000 of that, Schroepfer said. So the actual deductible a single employee has to pay is $500. The deductible for a family is $5,000, but the county will pay $4,000 of that.
Most employees’ deductible amounts will not change with the new plan, said Lisa Trentmann, county human resources and payroll clerk.
Some employees will see a premium decrease because they will no longer have to pay extra costs to be in the Barnes-Jewish Christian network. The BJC network is automatically included for all employees in the new plan.
“They don’t have to buy up to it anymore,” Schroepfer said. “It’s an improved network for the employees.”
However, the approximately 60 employees who currently opt for the BJC plan do not have to pay a deductible in exchange for paying higher premiums. But under the new plan, all employees will have a deductible.
Schroepfer said the extra premium that some employees currently pay for the BJC network basically equates to the cost of the $500 deductible that they will be subject to in the new plan.
Under the new plan, the premiums for a single employee will be $128 per month, and the county will pay $384 per month.
For a family plan, the premium will be $418 per month, and the county will pay $1,255 per month.
Employees will see one increase in costs under the new plan as the emergency room co-pay will rise from $200 to $250.
But a co-pay on prescription drugs will drop from $75 to $60.
“Employees should benefit heavily from that, too,” Schroepfer said.
Typically, about 15 percent of employees in an organization meet the full deductible each year, he added. To be safe, the county has prepared for 25 percent of its employees meeting the full deductible, even though that may not happen.
If 25 percent meet the full deductible, it would result in about a $65,000 increase in health insurance for the county in the upcoming year. But if fewer meet the full deductible, the county’s health insurance costs could actually be less in the new year compared to the current year.
The employees have taken an “ownership” in trying to keep health costs low by using generic drugs and urgent care facilities instead of the emergency room, Door said.
But in 2012, the county’s insurance paid out 13 percent more than what the county and the employees paid into the plan, Schroepfer said. That was one of the primary reasons the county saw a 14.6 percent increase in insurance costs for the current year, he noted.
The new plan takes effect Jan. 1.