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Commission looking into keeping full health insurance benefit for employees

By Staff | Aug 17, 2009

Full-time county employees have their health insurance premiums paid in full, and the county commission is determining if it can afford to continue that benefit into next year.

The commission is working on the 2010 county budget and is considering a small pay raise for workers as well as paying employees’ full health insurance costs through next year, says Duane Johnston, county commissioner.

However, the question is just how much more the county will absorb in premium costs following a sizable increase in July by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the healthcare provider for the county.

The 26 percent increase over the next two years figures to be an added $50,000 to the county. Quite a significant increase, Johnston said.

The county is allowed to designate up to eight mills toward health care costs for employees, and the latest premium increase may just push it over that mill total, according to Karin Fursather, county auditor. If that occurs, the commission will have make some decisions on how to pick up the additional health costs.

And one consideration is to call on employees to pay a share of the premium increase.

Beginning in July, the monthly family policy went up $209 and a single policy increased by $85. Most employees, however are enrolled in family plans. The county has agreed to fund the insurance costs fully at least through the end of 2009. The commission will revisit the issue at its September meeting.

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