Health increase eased

WARREN – Health insurance costs for Trumbull County employees will rise in 2014, but they won’t be on the hook to pay for the full projected 12 percent increase. Trumbull County commissioners have agreed to pay half.

”What you try to do is, if you pass the whole increase along to the employees, you would have a riot,” Commissioner Paul Heltzel said. ”So you have to decide what is a reasonable number. Fifty-fifty was probably pretty good, so that is how we came up with six and six.”

The county offers three plans to employees: two preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, one with a 90 percent / 10 percent cost split and the other an 80 / 20 split, and an exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan. All three have single and family plan choices.

An employee who selects the 90 / 10 plan must subscribe to the full plan. However, employees who opt for the 80 / 20 plan or EPO can pick and choose their coverages, which are medical, drug card, dental, vision and hearing and pay for 10 percent of what they select.

For example, the full cost in 2014 for an 80 / 20 family plan is $1,660, so an employee who picks full coverage will pay a $166 monthly premium share. Under the same scenario in the EPO plan, an employee would pay $175 – 10 percent of the full coverage, $1,751.

In the same situations this year, employees pay $156 and $165 a month for the 80 / 20 and EPO plans.

”They are still paying 10 percent, but a lower 10 percent than it could have been,” said county Human Resources director James Keating.

The projected increase was based on an analysis done by the underwriter for the county’s health care provider, United Healthcare, of past and current claims, said Keating.

”Paramount is the fact that we are self-funded,” Keating said. ”We don’t know what our claims will be. You would have to have a crystal ball.”

The county agreeing to pay for one-half helps offset costs for employees who haven’t had a pay raise since 2009, Keating said.