County facing hike in health insurance costs
The projected increases in health care costs for 2014 could impact next year’s budget for Lincoln County.
Consultants working with Lincoln County have given a preliminary projection of as much as a 30 percent increase in the costs of health care from 2013 to 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act. Lincoln County Finance Director Dan Leydet said that although they have already budgeted a 10 percent increase in premiums for 2014 to help compensate for the increase of cost, they have yet to determine how they will cover the rest of the increase.
“Part of the problem is we don’t really know the actual costs until six months into the year,” Leydet said.
At the six month point, preliminary budgets for 2013 will be turned in for review. Once the Finance Department has those numbers, they can begin to look at where the current budget stands and what changes need to be made for 2014.
According to Leydet, the county will not have an accurate estimate of the full health costs for 2014 until the actuaries are able to look at the costs from the first half of 2013. The preliminary projection of a 30 percent increase in costs could be even higher once they have those numbers in around August or September of this year.
Once the projected numbers for the health insurance costs are completed by the actuaries, the next step in the process is to see how they fit in with the county’s budget. Leydet said he hopes to have different budget options ready to present to the County Board in September.
Already the county’s portion of the health insurance coverage is at about $5.5 million with a portion of the cost paid by the employee. Currently the lowest premium percentage option available for employees starts at five percent, increasing from there.
Lincoln County currently self-insures its workers, using Security Health as a third party administrator for their health care. In the past, they’ve worked together with WPS for insurance coverage, but made the switch to Security Health this year. Their insurance plan covers major medical expenses and prescriptions, but also incorporates a three-tier plan to allow its beneficiaries to choose their amount of coverage.
Beneficiaries of Lincoln County’s health insurance program include fulltime employees of the county.