Kent County Levy Court worried about rising health care costs

DOVER — Kent County Levy Court on Tuesday recommended offering employees two health insurance plans in an effort to slow rising health care costs.

“It’s just a tentative plan, so they can work the numbers into the budget,” said Allan Kujala, personnel director for the county.

“The budget will be presented and then sometime in April they would need to select a plan because the employee open enrollment is in May.”

The option designated high plan will increase an employee’s monthly contribution to $60.

An employee selecting the other choice, called low plan option, would maintain the current $30 per month contribution, but would have to pay some money out of pocket, said Mr. Kujala.

Currently in the proposed budget, the county’s health insurance costs are projected to increase by 21 percent.

The county uses Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware for its insurance. The county pays $2.6 million for health care, but if the current proposal stays in place it would be about $3.1 million.

“That’s about a $555,000 to $600,000 increase,” Mr. Kujala said.

Health care and dental benefits are available to all full-time active county government employees.

The county also provides post-retirement health care benefits to all employees who retire from active service with the county government.

Mr. Kujala said the county is going to continue seeking other alternatives to help reduce its health care costs.

“There was a suggestion that we ask our broker to come in and make a presentation to Levy Court, so we’ll try and get that scheduled,” Mr. Kujala said. “Perhaps after they hear what he has to say they may make an decision, or they may ask us to approach Highmark for some other alternatives.

“I will try to ask Highmark about an HMO product,” he added. “But from my understanding in the past that was a difficult option to offer the county because we self-fund a portion.”

Commissioner Eric Buckson said he hopes Levy Court can do everything to avoid the potential increase.

“This may help bridge the gap,” Commissioner Buckson said. “Clearly, we’re heading down a road where we’re not going to make as much as our expenses.

“We have to figure out what we’re going to do about that. We have to keep chopping at it.

“I think the health care problems in this country that we’re experiencing demands that we act,” he said.

“We have to find a way to avoid the increase for the next year.”

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