Boyle County Fiscal Court voted to a 25 percent increase in employee health insurance prices — not as much as had been proposed — in a meeting postponed three hours due to a bomb threat at the courthouse.
Following an evacuation of the building for what turned out to be a false alarm, the court voted to raise health insurance deductibles for employee medical plans by 25 percent. The amount individual employees have to pay for medical care within the plan’s network of providers before the insurance benefits kick in was increased from $200 to $250.
The Fiscal Court’s committee that deals with health insurance had recommended raising the deductibles by more than double their current level. Judge-Executive Harold McKinney worked on the proposal with the county’s insurance broker, Valery McMann of Farmers National Bank, county treasurer Mary Conley, and magistrates John Caywood and Patty Burke.
The in-network deductible would have increased for individuals from $200 to $500. Still, those who worked on the plan said it was necessary to keep the county’s costs down, saving the county about $25,000 during the next year.
McMann told the court the proposed increase was a step toward bringing the county in line with private plans and where health insurance is headed under new health care legislation. McMann said most employees only used co-pays for doctor visits, with only 38 meeting their deductible for the year.
“This is still a very rich plan,” said McMann, who noted prescription coverage was not changing. “It is very unusual to find a $200 deductible plan and we were trying to make it comparable to what you would find in the private sector.”
McKinney said finding a plan with a $200 deductible was unheard of for companies or other private group insurance plans. He warned keeping costs at their current level was shortsighted and could jeopardize benefits and the county’s financial position in the future.
“I think it’s a mistake, and if we go down this road and don’t make changes, we will end up with a plan that is totally out of sync with the private sector,” McKinney said. “It’s how you get in trouble, if you don’t make adjustments over time.”
Several magistrates, though, said they opposed what amounted to an immediate 150 percent increase.
“I can’t go along with 150 percent or even 100 percent,” Magistrate Jack Hendricks said prior to the meeting. “It may save the county some money, but it’s putting it on the backs of the employees and I’m not going to go along with that.”
Hendricks said he would like to see the county seek more competitive bids for their health insurance, which is provided by the company UMR.
Phil Sammons said he couldn’t go along with increasing the price by such a large percentage at one time, particularly after the county has been saving money on insurance, which goes against state and national trends. Sammons’ initial motion to leave the insurance rates at their current levels was amended to the 25 percent increase after discussion.