The Porter County
Board of Commissioners voted at its meeting Tuesday to contract with Met
Life to provide a short-term disability option for County employees.
The benefit will be
available to employees who sign up and contribute approximately two dollars
per paycheck. The County will pick up 65 percent of the annual cost, and the
rest is funded by employee contributions, as long as half of all County
employee participate. The County’s share is $58,411 for the year.
Biggs, R-North, asked what happens if the County can’t get 50 percent
participation. County Attorney Scott McClure said in that case, the County
has to work harder to make sure all employees know its an option. The
contract could also be renegotiated.
There is a
preexisting conditions clause, that, according to County consultant General
Insurance Services, could apply to conditions an employee was treated for in
the past three months in relation to a disability request. Of the two most
cost effective options, Met Life and Lincoln Financial, Met Life’s clause
was more forgiving.
Scott McClure took a moment to reflect on the sick bank, where employees
used to donate unused days off for people who needed extra time off for
medical reasons. McClure said the sick bank was a good creation a the time,
but no longer works well with healthcare laws like HIPPA.
awarding days from the sick bank, and awarding them fairly, required asking
questions that bordered on violations of privacy, which made complying with
HIPPA, “exceedingly difficult.”
“It became clear
that there was almost no path to making the sick bank work in a way that was
compliant. That’s why we switched and pivoted toward a short-term disability
option,” McClure said.
President Jeff Good, R-Center, said the plan is a good investment for
employees to opt into. “For 2 dollars a paycheck, that’s a really nice
security to have.”
business, the Board voted to renew its contract with United for employee
with the County’s consultant on health insurance RE Sutton, reported the
only change United recommended was capping out of network ambulance charges
Bontrager to clarify whether or not employees could be responsible for out
of network charges exceeding that amount. Bontrager said the purpose for the
change is not to absolve United of its responsibility for those claims, but
to give them leverage to negotiate the cost of out of network transport.
that RE Sutton is prepared to look at claims data to show how the County’s
plan with United is saving money and how much, but right now, much of the
data from claims under the old insurance plan still linger in the way.
Bontrager said next year they should have a clean set of data on the new
Bontrager did say
that under the old plan, the County was consistently paying more for claims
than they were projected to pay--as much as 115 percent of expected costs
for the last two to three years the County was insured with BAS. So far, the
County is trending toward not exceeding its projected costs with United,
meeting about 95 percent of the expected. McClure pointed out that this
represents a full 20 percent reduction in expected costs.
The Board approved
the purchase of nine new vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department--2020 Ford
Explorers--from low-bidder Lakeshore Ford. Major Gary Gear reported the new
vehicles will be equipped and delivered later this year, and nine vehicles
from the Sheriff’s Police fleet will be decommissioned, likely in time for
the Sheriff’s sale. The vehicles cost $34,320 each and cost $6,126.85 to
equip, for a total cost of $364,021.65.
The Board agreed to
provide $314,021.65 and have the Sheriff’s Department pay $50,000.