County commission approves insurance plan

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

Same product, bigger price tag.

The Lawrence County Commission Tuesday awarded Medical Mutual Insurance the contract as health insurance carrier for county employees. When the new contract takes effect at the beginning of the year, premiums will jump by approximately 5 percent. Still, commissioners said they are pleased.

"It's better than what we expected," Commissioner Jason Stephens said.

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David Brown, of Brown-Raybourn of Ashland, Ky.,

said one of the factors in the premium hike was the

42-percent increase in health insurance claims.

"With paid claims going up $969,000 from the previous year, I think for us to get (a) five percent (increase) is very fair," Brown said.

Brown said that on the positive side, the increase in claims was offset somewhat by the trend toward using generic prescriptions.

The county received a total of six proposals from two different local insurance agencies. Although two proposals, one each from United Health Care and Etna, were lower in price than Medical Mutual, Brown said those two carriers could not provide the same level of service that Medical Mutual could.

Commission President Doug Malone pointed out that staying with Medical Mutual had another benefit:

if the county switched to another carrier, that entity would be expected to provide a new quote this time next year, after less than one year's experience with county needs.

Brown said he was pleased with the number proposals submitted, in light of previous years when choices were scarce. "We're starting to get proposals in," he said. "I can remember a time when we couldn't get quotes."

The approval of an insurance plan is one of the first hurdles commissioners face in drafting a new budget for the coming year, since health insurance is one of the county's larger expenditures.