Lincoln County insurance favors employees

Published 12:13 am Thursday, March 28, 2019

Supervisors chose an insurance plan Wednesday that will see less savings for Lincoln County, but will soften the blow to employees’ wallets for their dependent coverage.

After several proposals were studied, the board voted 3-2 to stay with insurance broker Sylvia King’s proposal to continue its contract with United Healthcare with a secondary plan through Gulf Guaranty’s MedPlus.

Sixty-one of the 139 employees covered will see a monthly increase in dependent coverage of $13.75 for employee and spouse, $1.23 for employee and child and $41.90 for employee and family. That comes with a $5,000 deductible that is reduced to $1,000 through the addition of the MedPlus secondary insurance.

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Open enrollment for county employees begins April 1 and continues through the month.

Over the past two weeks, supervisors have heard proposals from King, who also brought in Richard Cothern, president of Gulf Guaranty, who pitched a MedPlus plan to supervisors. Les Smith with LS&A, at the invitation of District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey, proposed a plan that would continue coverage with United Healthcare but with his MediHop secondary insurance. On Wednesday, the board split — three favoring King’s plan and two pushing for Smith’s.

The county is paying United Healthcare $1,736,640 annually for employees’ premiums. Currently, that costs $1,072 a month per employee. With King’s proposal using United Healthcare’s latest plan with MedPlus secondary insurance, the employee premium is $1,071.16, a decrease of 0.08 percent, or $1,735,279 annually. That’s a savings to the county of $1,360. The LS&A plan — UHC with LS&A’s MediHop secondary insurance — would cost the county $1,694,974 ($1,046.28 for employees’ premiums) for a savings to the county of $41,666.

However, that savings would come at the expense of the employees who include dependents on their plans.

“That’s 61 employees that you’re going to save $41,000 for the county, but the employees are going to take that hit,” Sheriff Steve Rushing said. “My employees don’t make enough as it is, so the less amount my employees gotta pay the better to me.”

Based on the information from both proposals, dependent coverage for a spouse with King’s plan goes up from $198.76 to $212.51, or $13.75; with LSA, it would have jumped to $248.76 for a $50 increase monthly.

Dependent coverage for a child with King’s plan goes up from $153.64 to $154.87, or $1.23; with LSA, it jumped to $191.09 for a $37.45 increase monthly.

Dependent coverage for a family with King’s plan goes up from $343.18 to $385.08, or $41.90; with LSA, it rose to $403.32 for a $60.14 increase monthly.

Falvey made the motion for Smith’s plan and received a second from District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson, but no other board member voted for it. It failed 2-3.

Then District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown put King’s proposal up and District 2 Supevisor Bobby Watts gave it a second to bring it to a vote. District 1 Supervisor Jerry Wilson, board president, gave it his vote and it passed 3-2.

With the new plan, copay will increase from $25/$45 to $30/$60.

The deductible through UHC is $5,000 in-network, but with the MedPlus secondary insurance, the deductible will be $1,000.

Pharmacy remains the same with $10/$25/$50 plan.

Employees will receive a new card that will include information for both United Healthcare and Gulf Guarnty’s MedPlus plan.

Williamson told King, the county’s insurance consultant, that he’d like for the insurance proposals to come earlier next year with more carriers contacted.

“We want the best insurance — and make a note of this — for the county and the county employees that we can get,” Williamson said.

King said United Healthcare is the only insurance willing to cover Lincoln County because of the high number of claims.

“People don’t come in and buy bad business,” King said.