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Sullivan County sticks with United Healthcare- Kingsport Times-News on Astini News

Sullivan County sticks with United Healthcare

Published October 27th, 2011 11:11 pm


BLOUNTVILLE — United Healthcare will remain Sullivan County's employee health insurance provider and the county will continue to pay 87.5 percent of premiums after a vote Thursday by the Sullivan County Commission.

The move means the county will need to cover an extra $241,000 for the six months of the upcoming coverage year that falls within the current budget cycle.

Asked where that money would come from, various county officials said the funds are available within existing accounts used to fund individual county departments.

The county's current contract for health care insurance expires Dec. 31.

A couple of weeks ago, the Sullivan County Commission's Insurance Committee voted to recommend switching providers — to Humana — but last week voted to recommend sticking with current provider United Healthcare.

All proposals considered by the committee included higher deductibles for employees enrolled in the coverage, along with increased premiums.

The current 12-month coverage came with pr emiums totaling more than $6.44 million — split between the county (taxpayers) and employees, respectively, at about $5.64 million and about $807,000 (county coffers cover 87.5 percent of premiums, while employees kick in 12.5 percent).

United Healthcare's most recent renewal offer — the one endorsed in a 4-2 split vote by the Insurance Committee last week — is based on an 8.7 percent increase, or about $483,000, for premiums totaling just over $7 million.

Committee members had discussed several different options for covering the additional $483,000 in funding — including possibly: increasing the percentage of the premiums paid by employees; charging employees an additional $50 per month "surcharge" for including a spouse in coverage; and charging employees an additional $50 per month "surcharge" if the employee does not participate in a health risk assessment (HRA) program.

The committee, which met in called sessions twice last week and in a regular meeting earlier this week, voted to waive the $50 spouse surcharge for participants in the HRA program — and to recommend keeping the current 87.5/12.5 split, at least for the first six months of 2012.

The plan approved Thursday by the full commission (with 16 of 24 members present and 15 voting "yes") keeps the 87.5/12.5 split and sets a deadline of July 1, 2012 (the first day of the county's next budget cycle) for development and implementation of a wellness program under the supervision of the Insurance Committee.

Employees enrolled in the county's health care insurance plan currently pay: $49.22 per month for individual coverage; $103.30 for employee plus spouse; $88.56 for employee plus children; and $147.56 for employee plus family.

Under the United Healthcare renewal offer approved by the County Commission on Thursday:

• With the county continuing to pay 87.5 percent of premiums, the portion employees pay beginning in January will be $53.27 per month for individual coverage, $111.86 per month for employee plus spouse, $95.88 per month for employee plus children, and $159.80 per month for employee plus family.

Prescription and office visit co-pays stay the same as this year, deductibles (individual/family) increase from $500/$1,000 to $1,500/$3,000, and the out-of-pocket cap increases from $2,000/$4,000 to $3,000/$6,000.

Published October 27th, 2011 11:11 pm

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