County health premiums jumping 11 percent
WILLMAR -- Health insurance premiums will increase 11 percent in 2008 for Kandiyohi County government, continuing a trend of double-digit increases. The total premium for 2008 will be $3.9 million. Of that, the county will pay about $3 million an...
WILLMAR -- Health insurance premiums will increase 11 percent in 2008 for Kandiyohi County government, continuing a trend of double-digit increases.
The total premium for 2008 will be $3.9 million. Of that, the county will pay about $3 million and employees will contribute $900,000.
Employees are continuing to pay higher premiums for family coverage, which could eventually force some to make tough decisions about whether or not they can afford to provide health insurance for their families, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.
To avoid that scenario, a committee has been studying ways to contain health insurance costs for the county.
The committee, which includes representatives from the county's union and non-union employees, has been meeting twice a week since October.
Kleindl has asked the committee to provide a recommendation by February on different options for health insurance plans that could provide less costly options for employees.
The committee "truly is working hard on it," said Kleindl, who's been impressed with the different ideas being brought to the table as the working group looks for solutions.
"We want to make it as affordable as possible," Kleindl said.
Kandiyohi County currently has four different health insurance options for employees, each with different levels of premiums and deductibles.
Typically, plans with lower premiums have higher deductibles.
The county currently pays $491 a month for employees who have single health insurance coverage. That covers 100 percent of the premium for two of the plans and 92 to 95 percent of the cost for the other plans, with the employee picking up the difference.
For an employee who chooses family coverage, the county pays about 60 percent of the cost -- $751 a month per family plan -- and employees pay the rest, which can range from $378 to $515 a month, depending on the type of plan.
If the cost increases don't slow down soon, family health insurance coverage will "price itself out," said Kleindl.
The county currently employs 471 people with about 400 full-time employees eligible to receive health insurance. Not all eligible employees obtain their health insurance through the county.
Before any new health insurance options are provided, they must be approved by the county's unions and the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.
The county is currently involved with contract negotiations with all six of its unions.