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Renville County leaving Prime Health, seeking single health insurance provider for all employees

The Renville County Board of Commissioners approved a letter of intent to withdraw from Prime Health effective Jan. 1, 2023. The county currently provides different health insurance programs to union and non-union employees, and wants to transition to single provider.

Lisa Herges
Lisa Herges

OLIVIA — The Renville County Board of Commissioners approved action to withdraw the county from membership in Prime Health for the health insurance offered to county employees.

The unanimous vote on Nov. 23 gives Prime Health one year’s notice of the intent, as required by its bylaws. Prime Health provides a self-insurance pool for its participating counties.

Renville County will continue to offer its employees health insurance through Prime Health in 2022. It will need to begin seeking a new provider to take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

County Administrator Lisa Herges said the decision is aimed at providing one health insurance program for all county employees. There is currently a split in the health insurance provided to non-union employees and those who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees bargaining unit.

Currently, about 75 non-union employees participate in a county-sponsored health insurance program through Prime Health. Approximately 100 county employees who are in the AFSCME bargaining unit participate in a service cooperative health insurance program.

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Offering the separate insurance programs for union and non-union employees is an administrative nightmare, according to Herges. She said that the different policies, unfortunately, are sometimes the source of hard feelings among employees, too, as the policies offer different levels of coverage.

When Renville County originally joined Prime Health, the goal was to see all employees offered health insurance through it. That did not happen, according to Herges.

She will meet with the county’s insurance broker to develop plans and a request for proposals to solicit a new health insurance policy for eligible county employees. Much of that process will occur later next year. Insurance providers want the most up-to-date claims data possible when developing proposals, she said.

Renville County has about 200 employees including both full- and part-time positions, with about 175 to 180 eligible to participate in its health insurance benefit.

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