The health insurance coverage that Douglas County offers its employees — the single biggest driver in the county’s budget — will be more on par with what private sector employers offer.
Starting in June, Douglas County employees will have to pay more in monthly premiums, co-payments for visits to the doctor’s office and emergency room and the maximum amount of money they have to spend each year on medical bills.
The increases will bring the county more in line with what other businesses are offering their employees, assistant county administrator Sarah Plinsky said. While the cost of health care plans everywhere have passed more responsibility onto employees recently, Douglas County has been reluctant to make changes to its plans because it was already reducing pay raises.
“They didn’t want to make a whole lot of changes to the plan design because they were cutting back on other benefits to employees,” Plinsky said. “They were looking at a total package of compensation.”
This year the county, which is self-insured, was facing a estimated 6.9-percent increase from the $7.4 million health care costs estimated for the 2011-12 fiscal year. To avoid the nearly $500,000 increase, major changes were proposed.
“It left us a little behind on our approaches on cost sharing,” Plinsky said of the county’s past health care plan.
Starting in June, doctor visit co-payments go from $15 to $25, emergency room co payments jump from $50 to $200 and the maximum out of pocket amount an individual will pay for health care increased from $1,300 to $1,800. For a family the amount jumped from $2,600 to $3,600.
One part of the plan that was left unchanged was that employees wouldn’t have to reach a deductible before health insurance coverage kicks-in.
“We discussed it and I hope we may put something like that in for future years as a way to incentivize employees to participate in employee wellness initiatives,” Plinsky said.
Adjustments made to the health care plan will help reduce the $2.4 million budget short fall that county believes it will face in the next fiscal year.