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County weighs health-insurance options
Health insurance, which often is a large percentage of any public entity’s budget, has moved to the forefront of Wilson County’s budget preparation and was the dominant subject in a July special meeting of the Wilson County Commissioners Court.
The commissioners had planned to begin soliciting for fiscal year 2013 bids Aug. 8, with bids being opened Aug. 27. However, representatives for Humana and Hartman Insurance Agency informed the commissioners that finding an insurer who will give a quote for coverage to begin Jan. 1 would be quite difficult. As a result, the commissioners voted to advertise for bids on Sept. 5 ahead of a Sept. 24 bid opening date. Bids will be due for submission by Sept. 21.
Typically, insurers only will quote rates up to 60 days in advance, the Humana representative said. The county’s health-insurance policies currently run concurrent with the calendar year.
“I don’t want to end up with one bidder because of the approach we took,” said Commissioner Larry Wiley, referring to a situation that occurred last year.
Health insurance was a bone of contention during last year’s budget talks, as a spike in insurance claims resulted in a $340,452 increase in the amount the county spends on individual coverage for its approximately 150 employees. Hartman representative Don Wallace said, however, the county’s loss ratio year-to-date sits at approximately 73 percent versus more than 100 percent last year.
“Does this mean the rates could go down?” asked Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr.
Wallace said Hartman would work with Humana to help the county’s rates not to increase.
“But a rate decrease, you’re dreaming now,” he said.
After the meeting was adjourned, the commissioners decided to hold another special meeting Thursday, Aug. 2, at 11 a.m., in which they will consider calling an election to decide the fate of the proposed Wilson County Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 3. The proposed district is the second attempt to form an ESD that would provide ambulance services to the 280-square-mile area currently covered by the Stockdale Emergency Medical Services.
Wilson County Clerk Eva Martinez confirmed to Wilson County Attorney Russell Wilson that she has verified the amount of signatures on a recently circulated petition as being sufficient to force an election. Once the commissioners order the election, they also will call a public hearing on the issue.
An attempt to win voter approval of the proposed ESD in the May 2011 election failed by 25 votes.
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