The Herkimer County Legislature approved three resolutions on health insurance for county employees and legislators at last week’s meeting, but not without some discussion.
District 2 Legislator Helen Rose voted against all three resolutions. She said when the matter was presented at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee, she asked about making changes to reduce the cost of health insurance. “We need to begin a dialogue,” she said.
Rose questioned the cost of the plan, saying while many local residents may buy a Medigap plan for about $4,400 a year, the county is paying close to $11,000 a year.
“And this is for a lifetime,” she said.
“I’m not advocating the rug be pulled out from under anyone, but we should be allowed to make changes within the plan,” said Rose. “I hope you all live to be 95 or 100, but this has to change.”
She said she had asked to talk with the consultant who advises the county in these matters, but was advised not to do so.
The three resolutions included:
• An administrative services contract with Excellus Health Plan in Utica, effective Jan. 1, 2013 with the administrative fee for the traditional plan to be $40.70 per month for each employee and $43.46 per employee per month for the Blue Preferred PPO and Healthy Choices Plans, with the Medicare Supplement Plan for retirees to carry an administrative fee of $32.54 per employee per month. The agreement sets the administrative fee for 2014 at a two percent increase; 2015 at a two percent increase; 2016 at a three percent increase and 2017 at a three percent increase.
• A contract with Excellus Health Plan, Utica, for stop-loss coverage. The annual premium is $24.49 for each participant and there is an annual deductible of $200,000.
Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace explained during a telephone interview last week the county is self- insured — “We pay dollar for dollar,” he said — and this coverage provides protection in case of serious illness.
• A contract with Benefit Resources, of Rochester for 2013 to provide administration services for a Health Reimbursement Account plan at a cost of $3.25 per month per participant with a compliance administration fee of $450.
Wallace said the action covers all of those who receive county health insurance, including county employees, union workers and the majority of county legislators as well as retirees who meet certain qualifications. He noted changes were made so that anyone hired after April 2009 must have 15 or more years of service and be 62 years to receive the lifetime insurance benefit. Those in salary schedules 1 and 2 pay 10 percent of the cost.
The increase in health insurance costs is about 1.7 percent, Wallace said, adding with the changes made in recent years, there has been about a 17 percent decrease in health insurance costs.
“These are small changes, but they add up,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Rose said in a telephone interview she does not accept the county’s health insurance or the payment in lieu of insurance that is offered.