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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

County insurance rates drop

By Shelley Grieshop
Mercer County employees and elected officials will pay 2.2 percent less for health insurance coverage beginning in 2009.
Due to a variety of factors including fewer claims submitted the last year or so, the premiums have decreased for the 275 workers covered by the health plan. The new cost for single employees will be $10 per two-week pay period - 21 cents less than this year. Family coverage will cost workers $42.27 per pay period.
The county picks up the tab for 95 percent of a single worker's premiums and 92.5 percent of a family plan. Coverage through the county also includes dental and life insurance.
The new premiums will take effect Jan. 1. Mercer County commissioners announced the adjustment at Tuesday's meeting.
Insurance for county employees is provided through the Midwest Employee Benefits Consortium (MEBC), a five-county, self-insured pool. Included in the consortium is Mercer, Auglaize, Van Wert, Shelby and Hancock counties. The pool was first created in 1993 to give the counties' "buying power" to help keep premiums low.
For 2009 the MEBC pool approved an overall 0 percent increase/decrease for members, based on all five counties' historical claims, employee ages and other factors. Each county then is evaluated and given its own increase/decrease based on individual member data.
For 2008 the MEBC approved an overall 10.8 percent increase, with Mercer County's claim history giving it a net increase of 7.8 percent.
In 2006 the MEBC chose CoreSource, a company based in Lake Forest, Ill., as its insurance consultant. CoreSource's job is to find the appropriate insurance plans to fit employees' needs, select a drug insurer and handle the preferred provider organizations (PPO).
In 2005, before CoreSource came aboard, the county's premiums had increased a stinging 21 percent.
As of Sept. 30, the MEBC pool has collected an overall $13.8 million in receipts (premiums, interest income and refunds) and paid out $10.6 million in claims, fees and other services.
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