The Porter County
Board of Contractors on Tuesday contracted with Heritage Advisory Group of
Chesterton to be a “second set of eyes” for the county’s employee health
plan and suggest any ways to cut costs.
The move comes in
the wake of a few recent newspaper editorials taking jabs at the health plan
overseen by the Commissioners.
President John Evans, R-North, addressed the criticisms in a prepared
statement, saying it is desirable to have a competitive benefit package
since most salaries are below what they are in the private sector.
“It is elitist and
easy to dismiss the contributions that our county employees make in the
everyday life of our citizens. That is, until you need them,” Evans said.
have striven for ways to keep costs at a minimum, Evans said, giving the
change to Porter Health Systems as the County’s Wellness Provider and
raising the costs of deductibles and co-pays as examples. In addition to
reviewing options to contain costs, the Commissioners are negotiating new
methods of payments to hospitals.
Just this past
year, the Commissioners reset the monthly premiums on the traditional plan
for $75 for a single employee, $100 for employee/spouse, $125 for
employee/child, and $175 for a family plan; while the high deductible
version starts at $25 for single, $50 for employee/spouse, $75 for
employee/child and $125 for a family.
Employees also can
get part of their costs back by participating in the plan’s wellness
continued to climb because of “a very high rate of catastrophic claims,”
Evans said. About 30 out of the 1,400 who get coverage make up roughly half
of the claims the County receives, he said.
clarification, Anton Insurance is the county’s current servicing agent and
receives no commission from the plan but is paid $2.75 for each employee in
the plan per month which comes to less than $20,000 annually.
sought bids for the county plan during a meeting two months ago and have
asked on three occasions for an independent review to be done to see how
costs might be contained or lowered, Evans said.
Insurance costs have taken up a sizable chunk of the county’s general fund
budget and the money for insurance this year is about to run out. The
Commissioners will go to the County Council next week to ask for $5 million
in hospital to cover expenses until the end of the year.
majority of the County Council passed the 2014 budgets with the insurance
fund already shorter than what was expected.
Heritage Advisory Group will be paid up to $5,000 for its services. All
three Commissioners voted in favor of the agreement.
Evans said Steve Brady, a consultant with Heritage, was recommended by the
Chesterton Town Council and the Mayor’s office in Portage, having worked
with them on their insurance plans.
on Tuesday, the board approved a proclamation to once again designate
September as “Childhood Cancer Awareness Month,” commissioned by the
Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids (NICK) Foundation.
Executive Director Donna Criner with the Foundation invited all county
residents to an Awareness Walk on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Lemmon Lake County
Park, 6322 W. 133rd Ave. in Crown Point.
walk is from 2 to 5 p.m. and is $15 to pre-register and $25 to register on
site. Registration information can be found on