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County discusses employee health insurance options

By Staff | Oct 21, 2016

The County Commission is looking for ways to save on health insurance costs.

County employees currently have health insurance through Sanford Health via the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System, or NDPERS. Originally projected to increase by 17.4 percent, Sanford projects rates on the current plan are expected to increase by 16.7 percent in July 2017.

In a special meeting Tuesday morning, the board met with Kari Hunt, account executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, to discuss large group health insurance options for government entities.

Hunt presented options.

The first plan would mirror the county’s current plan with Sanford, except it would offer a three to four-tier plan that could include two-party and single with dependents plans.

Other plans included a four-class system with rates that would not mirror the current plan, with higher premiums due to coverage options.

Hunt said that any large reductions made in the county’s current health insurance plan could result in forfeiting the plan.

Board Chairman Dave Migler expressed concern that the board may have a hard time attracting new candidates for the board with changes to insurance. Commissioners have the option, under the current plan, to participate in the county’s health insurance program. If the county were to switch to a BCBS plan, commissioners over 65 years of age and newly-elected commissioners would not be eligible for it as they are not considered employees or having a full-time office. Hunt said that in 2012, BCBSND had to “be the bad guy” with Ramsey County but that county still had candidates running for its board.

“Times are changing, change is always icky,” Hunt said.

Hunt said that BCBSND could offer dental and vision coverage at any time, even if the county stays on its current employee health insurance plan.

No decision was made on insurance options at the time.

The board approved a payment of $5,000 out of Walsh Township to Christianson Township for road work between the two.

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