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Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

High insurance rates send health officials shopping

By Shelley Grieshop
WAPAKONETA - Rising health insurance costs has Auglaize County Health Department officials seeking bids for a better deal.
Charlotte Parsons, the county health commission, told board members meeting Tuesday she received a call a few weeks ago from the agencies' carrier Anthem Health Insurance and was informed that rates will soon spike a whopping 29 percent.
Anthem provides medical insurance for all employees of the county health department.
"We've filled out applications for four to six other carriers to try and get a better rate," Parsons said.
She told board members she would present the solicited quotes at a future meeting so a decision could be made.
Following an executive session to discuss pay raises, board members opted to table the issue until December. Parsons said raises will likely be stipulated at the December meeting and become effective Jan. 1, as they have annually for several years now.
No salary figures were revealed when the board reconvened.
The nursing department at the health department announced they currently have an abundance of flu vaccines available for anyone interested. A temporary shortage at the Mercer County Health Department has led to calls to the neighboring agency from residents seeking the vaccine, said Auglaize County Nursing Director Cindy Jones.
Jones said anyone, regardless of which county they live in, can come to the Auglaize County department for a flu shot or attend a flu shot clinic. The next one scheduled is at the New Bremen Senior Citizen Center from 1-3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The cost is $20 per vaccine.
The vaccines are recommended for people of all ages but particularly necessary for healthcare workers, children 6 months to 5 years old and adult members of households where infants reside, Jones added.
The Auglaize County Health Department gave 1,113 flu vaccinations to the public in October and November.
In other business, board members:
• Approved the application and acceptance of a 2007 Immunization Action Plan grant to promote immunizations across the county. The original grant amount of $44,500 was applied for in mid-October. On Monday, Parsons surprised but happily received the grant check totaling $48,500.
• Learned the health department is being used as a meeting place for KIDS, Kids Illness & Disease Support group, which meets from 7-8 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month. KIDS is designed to help support parents who have children with a life-threatening illness.
• Approved minor changes in the county's emergency response plan including the update of names and phone numbers.
• The next board meeting is slated for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 12.
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