Sullivan County committee expected to recommend insurance provider

J. H. Osborne • Oct 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Employees of Sullivan County might know this week how much their health insurance premiums are going to go up come Jan. 1.

But, then again, they might not.

The Sullivan County Commission won’t vote on a contract for the insurance until at least Nov. 19. A recommendation is expected to come from the commission’s Insurance Committee. The group last met last week, but was unable to reach a decision. A called meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Members of the group have pretty much quit talking about adding a “surcharge” for employees who extend coverage to a spouse.

They’ve not stopped talking about increasing the percentage employees now contribute to the cost of insurance premiums.

An insurance broker negotiating with various insurance companies on behalf of the county presented offers from three providers for employee health coverage for the year ahead. The companies had been told to list what benefits they could offer and keep premium costs from increasing more than 35 percent.

The committee eliminated Fiserv, citing markedly different benefits than offered by the other two contenders: current provider CIGNA; and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The latter two offered very similar benefits at a similar cost, the broker said.

Committee members directed him to go back to both companies and appeal once more for the lowest price quote possible, based on the benefit levels outlined in CIGNA’s offer.

Those proposed benefits, as compared to current “silver” level coverage, listed as “current/proposed:”

•Office visit, primary care, $20/$20.

•Office visit, specialist, $30/$40.

•Deductible, individual, $300/$500.

•Deductible, family, $750/$1,000.

•Payable after deductible, 90 percent/80 percent.

•Emergency room visit, $100/$200.

•Maximum out-of-pocket, individual, $1,300/$2,000.

•Maximum out-of-pocket, family, $2,500/$4,000.

•Prescription co-pays are now $10/$20/$35. As proposed they would be $10/$20/$50.

•A 90-day supply is available now by mail order for one co-pay. That would increase to two co-pays as outlined in the benefit proposal.

Based on “silver” level coverage under current provider CIGNA, employees now pay:

•$29.86 per month for employee only.

•$59.48 per month for employee plus one.

•$91.14 per month for employee plus family.

If the county continues its policy of paying 89.3 percent of the cost — with employees paying 10.7 percent — figures presented to the committee last week indicate premiums for employees will increase after Jan. 1 to:

•Employee only, $39.31.

•Employee plus one, $78.61.

•Employee plus family, $121.85.

In all, a 35 percent increase means Sullivan County and its employees will have to come up with about $1.6 million in new money to pay for health insurance for 2008.

The Insurance Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.

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