County opts to retain insurance provider

About 20 county employees sat in during Monday’s Marion Coun­­ty Commission meet­ing to hear how the commissioners would come up with a “fair and equitable” way to handle the single and family insurance plans. County Clerk Tina Spencer said there are 90 single employees using the insurance and 17 families using the family plan. “The difference between the options is the deductible,” Spencer said.<p>
About 20 county employees sat in during Monday’s Marion Coun­­ty Commission meet­ing to hear how the commissioners would come up with a “fair and equitable” way to handle the single and family insurance plans. County Clerk Tina Spencer said there are 90 single employees using the insurance and 17 families using the family plan. “The difference between the options is the deductible,” Spencer said.<p>
After meeting three times in different special sessions to learn more about what other insurance agencies have to offer, the Marion County Commission stayed with its current carrier Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas.

The decision was unanimous on choosing the insurance agency, but on Monday, the employee contribution amount was something altogether different.

When the commission voted to raise the rate for a single person to $75 a month from $40, one county employee, Michael Hurst, a custodian, said he was so unhappy he “felt” like walking out the courthouse doors and never coming back.

“Understand I’m speaking in the emotion of the minute,” Hurst said.

“Do you have any idea what it feels like to be a husband and father and try to financially take care of a wife and three children when your take-home salary each month is less than $1,700.

“It’s absolutely impossible.

“We live as frugally as possible, and we take advantage of every federal and state assistance program we are eligible for, receive help from extended family and our church family.”

Hurst said his wife and oldest child don’t have health insurance because they can’t afford it.

“Because of fairness, my take-home pay is subsidizing families so they are being able to pay less for their family coverage.”

Hurst said he wonders how that is fair and how does it help his family pay for their insurance needs.

Commission chair Dianne Novak said she believed this to be fair and equitable to everyone, because prior to the change, the single insurance premium was 94 percent paid by the county with the family plan about 50-50 paid between the family and county.

“We are wanting to balance the single and family plans,” she said.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he would vote for a $20 increase for the single insured, but his motion failed for the lack of a second.

When Commissioner Kent Becker came back with a $75 increase, which was lower than what Novak would have requested, and higher than what Dallke wanted, the motion carried with a vote of 2-1.

Novak was the dissenting vote.

The other insurance companies presenting information included United Healthcare, Aetna for health, dental and vision and Surency Life and Health with Delta Dental.

The other company, Cigna Insurance, did not attend the commission with quotes after Tina Spencer, county clerk, informed the commission that based on preliminary information she received, their coverage was higher than the current carrier.

The commissioners decided not to pursue scheduling it for a presentation.