CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County commissioners will hold a special meeting next week to select a health insurance plan for county officials and employees.
Commissioners and County Clerk Junior DeLay discussed the county's options during their regular meeting Thursday.
As Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg advised he will be unable to attend the next County Commission meeting Thursday due to a medical appointment, the special meeting will be held so action can be taken on insurance before the current policy expires at the end of the year.
DeLay advised commissioners during the Nov. 29 meeting that the county's current health insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is planning on raising premiums by 49 percent for the same policy terms they provided in 2006.
The company reported the county had a 190 percent loss ratio for 2006, although that number is somewhat deceiving, according to DeLay.
"That's based on gross claims data, not what they actually paid out," he said.
The county's current plan costs about $314,000 and has a $2,500 deductible of which the insured pay the first $750 with the county covering the rest.
The annual premiums for that plan are projected to go up to about $470,000 for 2006.
The county can bring that premium down to about $418,000 by raising the deductible to $5,000 or an annual premium of $391,000 by raising the deductible up to $10,000.
This is the first year plans with a $10,000 deductible were offered, DeLay noted.
DeLay also presented information on integrated insurance plans in which portions are self-funded by the county.
One of these "self-insurance" plans has a company which covers medical costs up to $5,000 and another covering expenses over $20,000 with the county paying for claims between $5,000 and $20,000.
Another self-funded plan has the county paying the first $20,000 in claims with amounts over that covered by an insurance company.
DeLay said studies by one insurance company show 92 percent of their insured use less than $1,000 in benefits per year. Another company found 82 percent of their insured failed to meet a $5,000 deductible. A third company found 98 percent of its insured used less than $5,000 in benefits.
DeLay said if the county had claims similar to the national statistics, a self-
funded plan would work out well for the county.
However, "there's always a risk involved," DeLay noted, although there is a stop-loss provision which puts a cap on the county's payouts.
Blumenberg said with insurance costs continuing to rise, a national insurance plan is starting to look like a good idea.
He blamed all the "frills" such as prescription drug coverage that have been added to plans for part of the increasing costs.
"Fifteen years ago we bought hospital insurance. Now we have 'healthcare,'" Blumenberg said.
Commissioner Homer Oliver said the county can expect to see an increase in workmans compensation insurance as well.
In other business Thursday, sales tax revenue for the year is up about 3 percent as compared with last year's receipts, according to Blumenberg.
He said the increase is probably due to vehicle purchases. "That's got to be one of the biggest things going," Blumenberg said.
Commissioners also discussed purchasing a tractor mower with an attachment that can mow ditch slopes.