County votes to cap contributions for health insurance
WEST BRANCH — After opting out of a state law regarding the amount of money a government body can contribute to health insurance last year, the Board of Commissioners voted to cap the county’s contribution level for fiscal year 2012-13.
The county voted to cap benefits unanimously Aug. 23, in accord with Public Act 152. P.A. 152 requires governments to cap contributions, pass an 80-20 plan where employees pay 20 percent of insurance costs, or to opt out.
Commissioner Pete Hennard, who sits on the county’s insurance committee, said if the county would have taken no action before the fiscal year started in October, the law would automatically impose a hard cap.
“We didn’t have to vote on it to get the cap,” he said. “We just wanted everybody to be clear with what the county would contribute.”
Under the law, the county cannot contribute more than $5,500 for an individual plan, $11,000 for a two-person plan and $15,000 for a family plan. The caps do not pertain to vision and dental coverage, Hennard said.
The county insurance plan is under the cap for the most part, Hennard said. The two-person plan could be higher than the cap, he added. But, he said that the cap does not simply follow the type of plan — single, two-person or family — but the aggregate of the employee group.
For example, Hennard said if 10 employees took the single-person plan and it was $50 below the cap, and 10 people took the two-person plan and it was $50 over the cap, those two figures would cancel each other out, which is the case with the county’s plan, Hennard said. He added the family premium in the county’s Blue Care Network plan is under the cap.
According to Hennard, the county is still negotiating contracts with employees, but last year employees contributed to their own health insurance.
“Our employees this past year paid a 10-percent co-pay on the premium,” he said.
He added the county’s Blue Care Network plan from the current fiscal year is the same plan it will offer in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
P.A. 152 requires units of government to vote on the cap, 80-20 or to opt out each year, Hennard said. He added the board of commissioners knows insurance costs will be something that is negotiated each year, and the board’s plan could change from year to year.
“We understand that we’re going to sit down and talk health care with our unions every year,” he said. “We’re taking the cap this year. Most plans will be under. Next year we may be over.”