The Porter County Board of Commissioners cheered for good health Tuesday as
they renewed employee health insurance contracts with county insurance
provider Anton Insurance. They also approved an additional Healthy Benefits
program that will save employees money on doctor visits and provide seminars
for county employees to live healthier lifestyles such as nutrition options
and kicking smoking habits.
Commissioners John Evans, R-North, and Carole Knoblock, D-South, voted to
approve a number of contracts consisting of a renewal contract from Union
Labor Life Insurance Company, a 3rd Party Agreement Contract with Stewart C.
Miller, and privacy agreements with the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act with insurance providers Anton Insurance and Stewart C.
County Insurance Provider Mike Anton said county employees made a total of
14,239 claims in 2009. The plan cost projection for the county employee
premiums have increased by 16 percent this year but will probably not reach
the increase because the county has been under its estimated costs over the
past few years. The raise however covers the cost for the enhanced wellness
programs provided by HealtheACCESS Clinics, LLC, formally known as Hoosier
The Wellness program, which experienced upgrades in January, will now
include a healthy awards initiative program targeting employees and family
members who are at risk for disease. The plan provides several initiatives
for employees including unlimited access to HealtheACCESS clinical
facilities at no extra cost said HealtheACCESS President Don Kiger. The firm
has three facilities in Porter County, two in Valparaiso and one in Portage.
One other benefit with the plan is up to two free health screenings during
the year. Leigh Westergren, employee health insurance specialist at Anton
Insurance, said this year’s Porter County employee screening in January
brought in nearly 225 participants, more than twice those screened in 2009.
The seminar did find that 22 percent of employees are at high risk for
disease and about half at moderate risk.
The wellness plan requires the county to pay a monthly flat rate of $20 for
each employee or $40 for employees and dependent family members. Those
covered will see lowered medical costs when they visit one of the
HealtheACCESS clinics and will be able to see large discounts compared to
visiting their family doctor or the emergency room. The county will also be
able to save money as deductibles are included in the plan. Westergren said
with the current enrollment, the county cost is estimated at $225,000 for
Anton Insurance will also be holding future seminar luncheons for county
employees at various times throughout the year. Westergren said seminars
will be held in March for Tobacco Prevention education. Participants will be
eligible to continue in a program to help them overcome addiction to
smoking. Future seminars will be given with assistance from the Porter
County Purdue Extension Office and the Porter County Parks Department,
including seminars focusing on nutrition and fitness and controlling
diabetes. Later in the year, the group will also look at ways to improve
mental health and ways to cope with stress.
Anton Insurance will also be developing a wellness webpage featuring a
“fountain of information” for healthy living. Westergren said the overall
goal for these wellness programs is predominantly to educate and provide
ways to prevent health problems.
Porter County Information Technologies and Service Department Director
Sharon Lippens on Tuesday said she recently had a “very good experience”
with Healthy Access when she visited one of the facilities with her children
and was also able to save money in pharmacy expenses. The HealtheACCESS plan
is able to provide discounts through an exclusive agreement with Fagen
Westergren said the plan has been well received but some still may choose to
find their own means of receiving medical care. She hopes more county
employees will make use of the plan as “word-of-mouth” gets around. The
county commissioners approved the plans with confidence that the plan will
be a benefit to the county.
“I think we are doing a great service,” said Evans.