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Committee recommends Unicoi County supplement family insurance coverage

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated May 18, 2018 at 9:49 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Commission’s Employee Benefits Committee has come up with a funding formula to make family health care coverage affordable to the county employees who currently carry family insurance.

A poll of six county commissioners in attendance at Friday’s meeting of the committee showed a majority of the full nine-member commission is in favor of a recommendation for the county to cover all of an anticipated 6 percent premium increase in employees’ existing United HealthCare coverage and also provide a $300 monthly supplement for employees who wish to insure their families.

With the 6 percent premium increase to be covered by the county, employee premiums will stay the same and the current $520 monthly premium contribution paid by the county for all employees will increase to $551. The total increase in cost to the county will be approximately $70,000.

The additional $300 family coverage supplement recommended by the committee will reduce monthly premiums in three tiers of low- to high-deductible family coverage currently available to county employees from $888, $656 and $535 a month to $588, $356 and $235 a month.

The $300 supplement will increase the county’s insurance cost by another $54,000 for every 15 employees who chose to carry family insurance.

Prior to the past several years of what an overwhelming majority of county employees found to be unaffordable family premiums, 16 to 18 county employees carried family insurance.

The committee recommendation also includes a continuation of the county’s $50 monthly contribution to health insurance saving accounts to help employees who carry high-deductible plans with the cost of their copays and other out-of-pocket expenses.

The committee’s consensus on the recommendation came at the end of a long review of health coverage options presented by the county’s insurance broker, Jon Manful.

Manful said the 6 percent increase in the United HealthCare coverage levels identical to those provided to Unicoi County employees last year was a reduction of what was originally a 9 percent premium increase.

Manuful also presented the committee with a comparable package of coverage plans from Blue Cross that would have reduced the family health care premiums currently paid by county employees by approximately 26 percent at about the same cost as the United HealthCare packages.

Manful said he had also looked at state insurance rates for the county, but because of the county’s small group classification and other cost-impacting factors, the United Healthcare and Blue Cross packages offered more competitive rates.

The full Unicoi County Commission is scheduled to vote on the committee recommendation on Monday in advance of the employee insurance sign-up period.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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