McLennan County commissioners agreed Tuesday to restructure the county’s self-funded insurance plan in order to maintain a reserve fund balance of almost $1 million.
The restructuring will cause all county employees to see a 10 percent increase to their insurance premiums if they choose to stay with the same coverage, said the county’s purchasing director, Ken Bass.
County employees now pay no premium for the employee-only basic insurance plan. They can purchase plans that include more people and benefits.
The county’s total health claims in 2013 fiscal year are a little more than $7 million and the estimated contributions are about $5.9 million. The estimated claims for the 2014 fiscal year are about $6.4 million.
Bass said if the county were to not increase its rates, there would be only about $345,000 in the reserve fund by Sept. 30, 2014.
In order to maintain a reserve fund of about $1 million, the overall contributions would need to increase by about $600,000, from $5.9 million to $6.5 million.
The employee-only basic plan now will cost $42.28 per month. Plans that include a spouse will increase by $83.74 monthly, while the employee and children plan will increase by $62.47 and the entire family plan by $101.30.
The county pays $422.83 for each employee, regardless of which plan they choose.
In order for the county to provide a no-cost insurance plan as an option for its employees, the county created a “Consumer-Driven Health Plan,” human relations director Herman “Butch” Kelly said.
He said the county’s no-cost health plan has no co-pay for office visits and a $3,000 deductible. After meeting that threshold, all costs are covered.
Kelly said the plan costs only $395.34 for the county, so to help employees pay for unforseen medical expenses, it will put the difference of $27.49 into a health savings account.
Employees won’t lose the money if it is unspent, and employees can deposit money into the account to help with future health costs.
There is a list of drugs allowed to be bought with a co-pay, in case someone is on expensive prescription drugs, Bass said.
“It might be something some employees would consider a better option for them,” County Auditor Stan Chambers said.
District clerk’s office employee Judi Spillman spoke at a previous budget session and told commissioners with the decrease in her longevity pay and the increase in her health insurance plan, she would be losing 4 percent of her salary.
Karen Hall, who works in the county’s election office, said she appreciates the county providing employees with a no-cost option, but wasn’t sure which plan she would choose.
She has been working for the county for almost five years and with the loss of her longevity pay, Hall said she’s aware that she’s losing benefits.
“Everything’s costing more and everyone knows the county doesn’t have any money,” she said.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Lester Gibson also spoke out against the change, saying he doesn’t agree with the court raising insurance rates after it voted Tuesday to also raise taxes.
He said of the 885 county employees, more than 750 of them pay property taxes. The increase for health insurance premiums will be another burden on their finances.
“(Employees) are crippled by the strategy that’s being employed. It puts employees in a bad situation,” Gibson said.
Commissioners agreed in previous budget sessions to remove county employees’ longevity pay, which would save the county about $300,000.
Employees are paid $5 each month for every year they have worked for the county.