Isabella County Commission to Study Changes in Employee Health Care – The Morning Sun

A commission will examine Isabella County’s health care benefits for its employees with an eye on what could be $1 million in savings if the county moved to self-funding health insurance.

The idea was to make changes to how the county delivers health care to its employees during the fiscal year 2023 budget process, but the commissioners chose instead to form a committee to study the problem. The new fiscal year began on Saturday.

The commission will consider what the county will save to move from paying Blue Cross Blue Shield to fully implement — not only operating but also funding — to a model in which the county pays itself for health insurance.

County Administrator Nicole Frost said one projection she looked at showed the county government could save up to $500,000 by switching to a self-funded insurance program. The Isabella County Medicare facility, which receives the same insurance plans, will generate similar savings.

The savings will likely come from two places. One of them is the fact that self-financing the plan is simply a little cheaper than paying a third part to manage everything. The other is that if the actual cost of employee health care throughout the year — unlike in the fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30, the health care year spans over a normal calendar year — is lower than expected, the county maintains the savings.

Isabella County has moved to self-financing to cut prescription drugs from its health benefits for fiscal year 2023. $100,000 is expected to be saved between both the county government and Medicare facility.

Frost said moving health insurance to a self-financed model has been more difficult. Health insurance is a huge benefit, Isabella County offers a rich benefit, and the idea of ​​moving quickly to change may trigger a reaction from employees worried that the county’s savings could be reaped from the loss of benefit.

The purpose of the committee is to create an ongoing body that studies health insurance for employees. Instead of setting up an ad hoc committee to tackle the task for one year, Frost is drafting a new policy that could create an annual health insurance review program.

The commissioners are likely to get a draft of the policy at an upcoming meeting. Among other things, the policy will determine who will serve it.

Frost said the only known member of the committee now is Emma Newport, who handles salaries and benefits in the principal’s office. The commission will include other members from various groups of employees, retirees, an administrative office, elected officials, and the trial court.

After naming its members, Frost said the committee will gather input from staff, look at options and eventually come to a conclusion. Frost said she would essentially let the committee come to its own conclusion and that they could take the time needed to get there as long as they did before the hard realities of the balancing process required it.

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