Parish employees to see health insurance increase

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The Webster Parish Police Jury’s group health insurance premiums only increased about 3.5 percent this year, but they are keeping a watchful eye on what’s happening with healthcare nationally.

Secretary Treasurer Ronda Carnahan said they pay an average of $1 million per year in premiums to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. That includes payment of premiums for all the offices under the police jury, though some offices reimburse the police jury, she said.
Their annual renewal goes into effect May 1.

“I normally budget a 5 percent increase for group health, and to get a 3.5 increase is wonderful,” she said. “Last year’s increase was 13 percent. The reason for such a huge increase is because you have what they call a bad history or a lot of claims. We looked into other options, and to be able to stay grandfathered – a good thing under the Affordable Care Act – it helps keep our premiums on an even keel.”

In 2015, the police jury’s premiums did not increase at all, she added.

Jim Ritchie, BCBS Louisiana agent, spoke with jurors in their committee meetings Tuesday, and told them with unknown changes coming to healthcare under President Donald Trump, it was a good idea not to change their policy.

“We were grateful the increase was less than 5 percent,” he said. “For the last four years, it’s been around five percent. With everything happening in Washington, nobody really knows what’s going to come with the ACA. There may be some saving opportunities in the future, maybe even this calendar year.”
Carnahan said if they wanted to change their policy in the middle of the year, they have that option, but they followed Ritchie’s recommendation due to the national uncertainty.

“We are assured a 12-month premium at that rate, but if we chose to do something different during the year, we can do that; we’re just locked into that amount,” she said.

However, if anything is changed, Ritchie cautioned jurors they’d be subject to the rules and laws of the ACA, but it’s not all bad.

“You would have more wellness exams than you have now,” he said, “but your deductibles would be higher, your out-of-pocket would be much, much higher.”
In Tuesday’s regular meeting, the jury voted unanimously to renew the group health insurance as is.

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