Chesterton Tribune



County Commissioners approve new employee health insurance

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners approved new health insurance for county employees and officials at its meeting Tuesday.

The Board approved a proposal from United Healthcare to provide health insurance to county employees for the 2018-2019 year, beginning April 1. Delta Dental will handle dental coverage.

The move to United and Delta means that county employees can enjoy a network-based plan instead of a reference-based pricing system, in which the employer negotiates with providers. Tony Bontrager of RE Sutton, who has analyzed the Board’s options for health insurance for the past few months, said that the move will lower prices and give employees better options for care.

It also comes in at about $9 million--a major improvement from recent years, according to the President Jeff Good, R-Center. “When I came to this office, we were at 13 or 14 million for insurance on an annual basis, now we’re under ten,” Good said. “Our trajectory is going the right way.”

“It’s been important to the county from a fiscal standpoint, but it’s more important to our employees making sure they have a good plan,” Good added.

County Attorney Scott McClure noted that insurance with United comes with a user-friendly online portal where employees can find providers and compare prices. Such an option wasn’t available on the former plan.

Good noted that the county is also interested in collaborating with a group that operates wellness clinics and discussed the possibility of having an onsite clinic at the Administration Center. If used, this option could reduce claims costs for employees and provide better access to services.

McClure did say, however, that the perks of the new plan--including the online portal and any future investment in wellness clinics--need to be used at a rate of 60 percent to be cost effective.

Good responded that United and the health clinic team will bear the brunt of educating employees. “The onus is on them to come in here and present themselves to our employees and make their world better,” he said. “We set the expectation level in that meeting with them.”

Capital improvements

In other business, Scott Cherry of Skillman Corporation, representing the Commissioners on their capital improvements projects, was at the meeting to finalize a proposal for services and to discuss upcoming contracts.

Commissioner Good said “We’ve already seen the benefits of having Skillman with us.”

Cherry reported that Skillman has vetted contracts for restoration and maintenance work on the Porter County Courthouse and renovation on the Expo Center from Valparaiso-based firm Shive-Hattery. The Board approved both agreements. Cherry also brought a proposal from American StructurePoint for surveying on the Courthouse property, which the Board approved, with a contract soon to follow.

“We’ve already seen the benefits of having Skillman with us,” Good said.

The Board also approved a payment of $79,661.97 to Gariup Construction for renovations on the front plaza of the Administration Building. County Attorney Scott McClure said the remaining balance for that project is about $205,000.



Posted 2/15/2018




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