County raises insurance deductible

Published 12:09 am Thursday, December 19, 2013

NATCHEZ — Adams County employees will have an insurance plan that raises their deductible to $2,000 starting Jan. 1.

The plan, adopted by the county board of supervisors Wednesday, is part of a temporary measure to bring the county’s employee benefits in line with the Affordable Care Act until the supervisors can adopt a permanent policy in April, when the county’s insurance is up for renewal.

The temporary measure is needed because key provisions of the ACA go into effect Jan. 1. If the county did not change its benefits plan before then, the county would see a cost increase of $172,159 in employee costs annually, county insurance agent Randy Hazlip said.

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The plan adopted, one of four alternatives Hazlip presented, calls for employees to have a $2,000 deductible under their Blue Cross plan for the calendar year, with employees paying an additional $43.24 each month for dependent benefits.

County employees currently have a $7,500 deductible and a $30 co-pay on their health care plans.

The county has a second insurance plan with insurance provider Morgan White, however, which covers $7,000 of the deductible in what is known as a gap plan. The remaining $500 — the de facto deductible for employees — is under the Blue Cross plan.

The temporary measure maintains the $30 co-pay.

Hazlip said the temporary plan would actually save the county $26,396 if implemented on an annual basis. The supervisors ultimately decided to take the savings from the temporary measure and use them to keep the dependent costs the same for employees.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins said she supported the plan to raise the amount employees pay to $2,000 annually because, while the deductible is higher, it will allow them to keep more money in their paychecks.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said county employees could benefit from the fact Natchez Regional Medical Center — which is county-owned — waives the deductibles for county employees.

The supervisors will revisit the matter in March in preparation for the new insurance year to start.

County Administrator Joe Murray said some discussion could be had between now and then about the possibility of offering different plans for different people.

“Some might not mind paying for a $5,000 deductible, but others might not mind paying for a $500 deductible because they have six kids who always stay sick,” he said.

The other three options presented at the meeting would have cost the county at minimum an additional $28,000 annually.