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Refugio County employees left without county health insurance

By BY J.R. ORTEGA - JRORTEGA@VICAD.COM
Aug. 31, 2011 at 3:31 a.m.


REFUGIO - Efforts to wrangle in a new health insurance company to cover Refugio County employees were unsuccessful.

The county's solution is to increase employee salaries at least $600 to cover the individual cost of purchasing insurance.

Verity National, the insurance company that covered the county for the past 15 years, could not meet the county's high claims. Other major insurers, such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, also did not want to cover the county because of the high claims, said Ann Lopez, county commissioner Precinct 1.

"It's not a situation that any of us wanted," Lopez said. "But it's also one that we could not find a solution to."

The high claims were beginning to deplete the county's reserves, she said.

Hopes are for county employees to use the extra income to purchase health insurance, though it's not required, she said.

"People started aging and getting sick and that began to impact the whole plan significantly," Lopez said.

County employees received letters with information about other health insurance companies and the county is doing what it can to help ease the burden, Lopez said.

The county is expected to approve its budget and the exact increase in salaries for the county employees on Sept. 13.

"It's a very difficult decision," she said.

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