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Insurance changes could boost Floyd County employee costs

By Bob Steenson,

Budgets and insurance — perhaps not the most exciting topics for many people, but important parts of the county Board of Supervisors’ duties and ones that filled up almost an entire morning of discussion Tuesday.

The Floyd County board set the public hearing on the fiscal year 2020-21 county budget for 9:15 a.m. Monday, March 9, in the boardroom on the second floor of the courthouse. Members of the public are invited to give comments or ask questions about the county’s proposed budget that will take effect July 1.

The Press will have more detailed reports on proposed changes in the county budget and the impact on county property tax rates before the public meeting is held.

The supervisors spent most of the meeting Tuesday discussing county employee insurance rates and options.

The projected premium price increase from Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the county to keep the same policy coverage it has now would be 9.89%. However, because administration costs are staying the same, the actual total increase to the county would be 8.78%.

That means the total paid by the county for employee health insurance would increase by $140,477, from $1.60 million to $1.74 million for the fiscal year.

Much of the discussion by Supervisors Roy Schwickerath and Linda Tjaden, County Auditor Gloria Carr and representatives of the Iowa Government Health Care Plan was about ways to reduce the county’s costs, most likely by making employees pick up more of the cost.

The county currently pays the entire premium for single family coverage and 75% of the premium cost for family health insurance policies for county employees.

In addition, the county covers much of the deductible cost and much of the total out-of-pocket cost for employees and their families.

For example, in the current coverage, the county buys a policy from Wellmark through the Iowa Government Health Care Plan that has a single deductible of $5,000 and a family deductible of $10,000.

But the county sets aside money to self-insure to cover most of the deductible cost, requiring employees with single plans to pay just the first $500 and families to pay the first $1,000 of the deductible.

The county also covers most of the out-of-pocket maximums. The county policy has an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350 for singles and $12,700 for families, but makes employees pay just the first $1,500 or $3,000 of that.

Although no action was taken Tuesday, it is likely the county will change to a policy with a $750 deductible for singles and a $1,500 deductible for families, and a total out-of-pocket annual maximum of $2,000 for singles and $4,000 for families.

In all those cases, the county would continue to cover much of the actual cost of the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums by setting money aside for partial self-insurance.

That proposal would also increase the copay on office and urgent care visits from $15 to $20, and would increase the copay for prescription drugs.

The proposal would result in a 5.94% increase in health insurance costs for the county, or an additional $94,955, but some of that would be for additional money set aside for self-insurance.

The supervisors also discussed dental insurance, which currently is part of the package for all single and family coverage.

Schwickerath and Tjaden — Supervisor Doug Kamm was absent — discussed making the dental coverage optional, as well as offering two different tiers of coverage, with the higher tier including some orthodontia coverage, lower deductibles and higher maximum benefits.

They also discussed possible changes to the county’s employee wellness program.

The board is scheduled to take action on any insurance changes at a special meeting Monday, Feb. 24, so the county can keep on schedule to have the proposed budgets published, public hearing held and the budget passed and sent to the state by the end of March.