Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
By Shelley Grieshop
Auglaize County Health Dept. staff get raises, less insurance
Medical insurance costs to really go up for area government workers
  WAPAKONETA - Auglaize County Health Department employees are feeling the same pinch as many other area workers after receiving a raise in wages nixed by a loss of insurance coverage and higher deductibles.
Following an executive session Monday morning, health board members approved 3 percent raises, or an additional 50 cents per hour - whatever is greater - for employees. That was the good news.
The bad news: employee medical insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays for office visits and prescription drugs will increase - some doubling - following board approval to switch insurance plans but stay with carrier Anthem Health Insurance. The company recently informed the county they were increasing their current insurance plan cost by 29 percent, which would have resulted in an additional $50,000 annually.
Health Commissioner Charlotte Parsons sought bids from other carriers but after reviewing those numbers, board members decided it was in the county's best financial interest to stay with Anthem, just switch plans.
"Other carriers wanted as much as $100,000 (annually) more," she added.
Under the new plan, deductibles will double for single and family coverage but the total out-of-pocket maximum is lower, Parsons explained.
In other business, board members:
• Approved an increase in employee mileage reimbursement from 44.5 to 48.5 cents per mile based on the IRS mileage rate for 2007.
• Approved updates and revisions to the Emergency Response Plan. The changes mainly deal with mass vaccination procedures; the former plan dealt solely with small pox vaccinations.
• Determined which holidays will be observed by the health department for 2007.
• Approved various travel expenses for employees.
• Learned 930 people received flu vaccines and 60 were immunized for pneumonia during health department-sponsored clinics held in November. Officials say there is plenty of flu vaccine available and advise pregnant women, healthcare workers and caregivers to receive them.
• Learned the next board meeting is slated for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 9.
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