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County workers get insurance break

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Most Fayette County employees will not have to pay for two months of their health insurance this year.

The Board of Commissioners voted last week to pay the employee portion of health insurance premiums for July and December. County employees who had the health insurance policy during 2018 are eligible, except for county highway workers who are covered by a different policy, according to Gary Naylor, president of the commissioners. This will include six retired county employees who are covered by the policy.

The insurance holiday came about because the county switched insurance policies in 2016. In addition, the county has experienced a low loss rate, meaning fewer employees had large insurance claims in 2017 and 2016.

Fayette County Auditor Jane Downard said, “Assuming that all participants who are currently on the health insurance remain on it through the end of the year, we have estimated the premium holidays will give the 82 eligible employees and 6 retirees a cost break totaling $31,068.12.”

She said the county’s insurance cost $602,556 less than expected in 2017, and $701,371 less in 2018.

“When we changed insurance companies to Apex, we didn’t adjust the dollar amount of contributions from employees,” said commissioner Dale Strong, who was on the budget-controlling county council when the change was made.

Naylor said that the county’s insurance carrier recommended the insurance holiday rather than decreasing the premium. The cost of insurance will vary from year to year based on how much county employees use their insurance. If the county reduced the amount paid by employees and then had a bad year with a lot of expense, the premium increase for employees could be much larger than by leaving the premium alone and giving employees the premium holiday.

The commissioners will consider offering a premium holiday annually, Naylor said, based on health insurance experiences from the previous year.

“I think we take from them (employees) more than we give back and this is a chance for us to give back,” Naylor said.

Downard said the amount saved by each employee will vary, depending on how many dependents are covered on each policy.