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Cass County Board: Health premiums on the rise for county employees

BACKUS — Despite better than projected claims so far this year, Cass County’s employee health insurance premiums will go up next year.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe explained to the county board at Tuesday night’s regular meeting held at Powers Township Hall that Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which administers the county’s insurance program, will raise its fees 7 percent in 2013.

Stop loss insurance to pay for claims over $100,000 will go up 10 percent.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield had recommended the county also evaluate what they anticipated could be an 11.7 percent increase in claims.

Wolfe said the county insurance committee, comprised of Wolfe, Administrator Robert Yochum and several county employees, decided the county’s claims experience could actually allow Cass to decrease its expected claims.

The net result the committee recommended and the county board adopted Tuesday calls for the total health insurance premiums to rise between 3.22 percent and 5.01 percent, depending upon whether an employee chooses a single or family plan and how high a deductible the employee selects.

Total monthly premiums will range between $482 per month and $1,539 per month. The county will pay $938.44 of that premium. That is 2.83 percent higher than 2012. Health savings accounts can be used where the actual insurance premium is lower than the policy cost.

Employee share will rise between .66 percent for one single health plan to 6.42 percent for one of the family plans.

The county also provides basic $10,000 life insurance, long-term and short-term disability and dental insurance, none of which will increase. Health savings account administration fees also will not increase. Employees have an option to purchase additional life insurance at their own expense.

Land commissioner Joshua Stevenson obtained board approval for the county to endorse a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) permit to allow Woodtick Wheelers all-terrain vehicle club to cross Highway 84 in Longville as a part of that club’s proposed Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant-in-aid trail system.

The MnDOT permit will not include permission to cross the Highway 84 bridge at the south end of Longville at this time, because the current bridge is narrow and is scheduled for replacement in 2013 or 2014, Stevenson said.

The board approved granting an easement over county land if a survey shows an existing road to properties west of Woman Lake in Woodrow Township is on county land. Property owners will pay the survey cost.

Stevenson said it is unclear at this time whether the road is on private or county land.

Fairview Township will be asked to hold an easement across state land to enable a property owner to reach his property in Section 22. That property owner also will be required to pay survey costs.

Stevenson said a recently passed state law would enable the DNR to grant a direct easement to a private landowner, but DNR policy at this time is to only grant easements to government agencies.

If Fairview Township decides against holding the easement, the county would accept it.

The county board authorized Sheriff Tom Burch to continue a joint powers agreement with Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to participate in the state internet crimes against children task force through 2013.

The BCA reports 150 online predators have been arrested under this program through 703 investigations. Forensic examinations have been done on 808 computers throughout the state.

Woodview Support Services/Oakridge Homes Inc. will take over administering and providing services for Cass County’s programs to serve developmentally disabled and mentally ill persons.

Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Reno Wells said the county has been contracting with 15 vendors to provide these services in the past. Now, many of the same vendors still will be used, but the new provider will coordinate those services for the county.