The Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors, and county employees in particular, have received some good news as they found that health insurance premiums will be limited to a 3.82 percent increase.
That's particularly good news for employees who now have 100 percent of employee premiums paid, with the county picking up half the cost of family premiums. Had the premium increase been substantially more, the Board may have leaned toward having employees pick up part of the cost.
It was county employees, though, that probably had the biggest impact on keeping down premium increases through a higher usage rate of generic prescription drugs as opposed to name brands.
The previous day in a separate session, the Board discussed with department heads the possibility of employees picking up a portion of the cost of their insurance premiums.
"We as a group have not discussed it," said Board Chair Bill Lanphere. "We got a pretty low increase last year. We don't know what we're going to get tomorrow," Lanphere said, prior to the county hearing about the 3.82 percent increase held last Wednesday.
Lanphere said if the insurance premium rate would increase at a rate of no more than twice the increase in the cost of living index, that the county could absorb that amount.
"Personally, I feel it's time some of the employees appreciated what they get," Lanphere said. "And I think they would do that by paying part of the freight."
Treasurer Kathy Bach said some counties had grandfathered in former premium payment arrangements so only new employees would pay premiums according to a new schedule.
"I don't think it's right when you go back on something that has been a benefit of the county," Bach said.
With just a 3.8 percent increase, though, the Board will likely absorb the increase.
Supervisor Jim Gustafson asked Wellmark representative Tom Fleming to bring back a price quote to the Board on an "employee-plus-one" premium schedule that would address the rates for empty nesters and other two-member families.