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Health care plan changes saves county money

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 4, 2011 at 3:04 a.m.


BUDGET SCHEDULE

Tuesday-Wednesday: County departments present budget requests to commissioners court.

Sept. 2: Proposed budget posted onto Victoria County website.

Sept. 6: Receive and discuss effective and rollback tax rates; dates set for public hearing.

Sept. 12: Public hearing on budget.

Sept. 15: Public hearing on budget.

Sept. 19: Adoption of 2012 budget and property tax rate.

Victoria County is expected to spend less on health care this year than in the past.

Employees' health care insurance claims are expected to drop to $2.05 million this year, from the high of $3.81 million in 2010.

That number also includes the administration costs to run the plan.

County Judge Don Pozzi partly credited fewer major illnesses as part of the reason for the decrease.

The commissioners court was presented with an overview of the county's health care on Thursday. Pozzi said based on what he saw, he wasn't intending to recommend raising premiums on the county or its workers.

Linda Walker, who counsels the county on its health care plan, proposed the county fund its health care plan $25 more per employee. But Pozzi said that was unlikely to occur.

The county's acquisition of the Employee Primary Health Care Clinic last November has also saved $210,975 from January to June, according to the analysis presented by Walker. The county was projected to spend $275,000 on its clinic for all of 2011.

Walker explained that it was cheaper when county workers visited the clinic as its first contact rather than a doctor.

The increased calendar deductible, which went from $1,000 in 2010 to $1,500 this year, was projected to save the county $53,830 in the first six months this year.

And emergency room costs have gone down $7,677 in the first six months of the year. The deductible for visiting the emergency room jumped from $150 to $500 this year, Walker said.

Anthony Moschella, whose company Boon-Chapman administers the county's health plan, said the increased deductible steers employees to use the emergency room efficiently.

Walker's analysis also showed Victoria County saving $192,996 by diagnosing 17 health problems in workers early. Those included diabetes, hypertension, prostrate cancer and cholesterol problems.

And the elimination of the deductible carry-over benefit saved the county $45,525, according to Walker's report. Before, employees were able to have their deductible count toward their coverage over the next 12 months if they paid it all in the last quarter of the year.

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