Starting at the beginning of next year, Phelps County employees will have health insurance benefits under a new provider.

Starting at the beginning of next year, Phelps County employees will have health insurance benefits under a new provider.

All three Phelps County Commissioners Tuesday morning unanimously approved a motion to switch health care carriers for 2013 from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to United Health Care.

Among the changes for county employees through United Health Care is that they will have a higher deductible, which was raised from $1,000 to $1,500. It was noted that United Health Care has two deductibles per family.

Also changing is the second tier for prescription coverage co-pays, which increased from $30 to $35, but the first and third tiers will remain the same at $10 and $60 respectively.

Another change for employees involves an increase in the percentage of premium costs that they will pay.

This past year, the county paid for 90 percent of premium costs while employees paid 10 percent.

Beginning in 2013, employees will pay 15 percent, with the county picking up the remaining 85 percent.

With an expected 28 percent increase in renewal rates if the county had stayed with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the annual cost for the county would have been roughly $1,088,376.24. That amount includes employee contributions.

With United Health Care, the total annual cost to the county will be about $925,596, which again includes the employee contributions.

County Clerk Carol Bennett said this past year’s health care costs totaled about $848,000.

District One Commissioner Larry Stratman said United Health Care has a strong network of doctors.

It was noted that open enrollment for county employees is for the entire month of December, so employees can choose to opt out for next year if they want.

The county hired Sheran Ashby, of Ashby Covenant Insurance, as its agent to help with the process of choosing a health insurance provider.

Liability insurance

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners and Dan Cavender, of BPJ Insurance, discussed renewing the county’s liability insurance renewal.

No decision was made Tuesday because commissioners wanted a list of vehicles covered under the county’s policy to be reviewed by the sheriff and county road superintendent.

Stratman also suggested the commission look at raising the collision deductible on vehicles. That deductible was raised last year from $500 to $1,000.

Cavender said the insurance renewal for next year calls for a 9 percent increase in premiums compared to this time last year, but he said a refund for defensive driving and another refund for counties that renew with MOPERM (Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund) may actually lower that 9 percent increase to about what the county paid last year. Cavender said over the past seven years, the county paid an average premium of about $170,000.

Cavender noted that the county still has two claims from 2007 that have not been settled yet. One of the claims is for more than $300,000 and the second is for more than $100,000, according to Cavender. The county also has a third outstanding claim from 2010 for more than $21,000, he said.

He said if all of the claims are settled, the county may have the option to lower their law enforcement liability insurance costs at the next renewal.