Chesterton Tribune

County mulls health savings account option to cut insurance costs

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners is considering adding a new health savings account option to the county employee health care plan, which according to actuarial reports could save the county an estimated $1.3 million to $2 million.

Mike Anton of Anton Insurance, the county’s health plan service provider, and third-party administrator Stewart C. Miller delivered to the commissioners a new analysis of the county’s self-funded plan during their meeting Tuesday.

Actuaries with the company Milliman Inc. studied the plan’s records from February 2007 to December 2011 to look at the trend line based on inflation and what savings are available through HSAs.

Stewart said that the medical trend line in the county’s plan over the past four years is an 8 percent cost increase, similar to average industry trends over the period, but there are some government units which have seen closer to 15 percent or more. The annual drug trend line amounted to an 8.9 percent increase, also consistent with industry averages.

As the plan is currently set up with a monthly enrollment of 595 employees, the county could pay up to $10.7 million in insurance costs starting in April 2013, but if it takes on the proposed HSA plan the costs in April 2013 could be an estimated $8.7 million. Employees would pay an annual deductible of $2,500 each and $5,000 per family.

Miller said $360,000 could be saved for the next two years if 30 employees decide to enroll in the HSA vs. the current plan and $970,000 could be saved if 70 percent decide to opt into the HSA plan.

Anton said the HSA route is more attractive to younger employees as the money they put into their accounts can carry over year-to-year and be used to pay down claims later on.

“It’s a very generous plan,” said Anton.

County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said the commissioners will consider the matter and make a decision in the next few weeks. He was told by Miller that the commissioners had no obligations to change the current deductibles.

Evans said he would like to see more employees taking advantage of the wellness programs offered to them, which include free health screenings that could lower the amount of claims.

“That’s where we could really make some money,” he said.

Miller said a decline in the number of claims was seen in July. Claims processed from April to July totaled $3.1 million according to the actuary report.

The county has three option plans currently and more than 90 percent of employees choose the plan with the lowest deductibles which ranges from $75 for individual to $175 for a family. The county’s plan is self-funded up to $125,000 for each employee.

For the past year, county officials have made it their goal to find ways to lower costs on the employee insurance plan which climbed to $9.3 million in 2011, roughly one-fourth of the county’s general fund, which is raised primarily through property taxes.



Posted 8/8/2012