County changing health insurance carriers

Supervisors hope to save money going back to Wellmark

Just three years after changing third party administrators for the county’s employee health insurance, the county supervisors decided Monday to go back where they were – with Wellmark. This time, it’s with a new insurance broker.

Three years ago, at the advice of insurance broker Sandy Scheuermann of Paradigm Benefits, the county switched to Cypress Benefit Administrators as its third party administrator and Midlands Choice as the preferred provider organization.

Rising insurance costs and the depletion of the county’s self-insurance fund prompted the supervisors to look at other options. According to board chair John Muir, conversations with the Iowa State Association of Counties and other counties led to talking with Kingston Life and Health Insurance. Kingston represents 24 Iowa counties.

Muir, supervisor Dawn Rudolph, chief sheriff’s deputy Nathaniel Chapman, deputy auditor Billie Jo Hoskins, drainage clerk/IT specialist Michelle Fields and Tanner Stauffer of the secondary roads department comprise the county’s insurance committee. The committee recommended switching to Kingston, with Wellmark as the third party administrator and Alliant Select as the preferred provider organization.

Cypress had projected an increase of 23.5 percent on the Jan. 1 renewal date. With Wellmark the cost will be 9 percent more than this year. The coverage will be the same; the savings will come via larger discounts on billed charges from Alliant Select than from Midlands Choice, and from a smaller administrative fee charged by Wellmark than by Cypress.

The county’s maximum cost for health insurance in 2019 will be $1,978,000.

In changing providers, the county is adding a high-deductible health savings account (HSA) option. The county will put the first $1,000 into the account for employees on a single plan, or $2,000 for employees on a spouse or child plan. That will help cover employees as they build their HSA.

Good participation in the high-deductible HAS option will provide more savings for the county.

The county plans to have employee meetings next week to provide information about the new plan and HSAs to begin the enrollment process.

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