After receiving notification that Health Traditions, the current health insurance for Jackson County, would no longer be carrying health insurance in a few years, the Jackson County Executive and Finance committee decided Monday to move forward with a new insurance carrier effective Jan. 1.

“Health Traditions announced two weeks ago that they will no longer be insurance carriers. They did bid on us for 2018, but I said to Jim (a corporate benefits specialist) we need to get other quotes so we can see when is the best time for us to leave Health Traditions,” Jackson County clerk Kyle Deno said.

Deno said the county has done well over the last two years, coming in under the premium payments at 82 percent in 2015-2016 and 81 percent in 2016-2017.

“What that means is we’ve paid the insurance company more money than what we spent, which is a good thing because there were three or four years ago it was opposite,” Deno said.

Health Traditions did bid on the Jackson County health insurance plan with a zero percent increase, but the committee still considered the move.

“Do we stick with Health Traditions today, and what happens if our census people have health issues? We have two/three people with huge claims? Then all of a sudden our 81 percent and 82 percent just went the other direction and maybe people won’t bid on us next year when we need people to bid on us,” Deno said.

Jackson County worked with The Insurance Center to prepare other offers from insurance companies to present at the meeting.

Unity came in 10 percent under the plan quote of Health Traditions, with the next closest being WCA Group Health Trust coming in at four percent under Health Traditions’ quote.

The committee ultimately decided to go with Unity because of the lower price, but some committee members were still cautious that the price may be too good to be true.

“The thing on the lower priced, Unity and WCA, is that they are next year, but what are they going to do (after that). Are they just cooking us?” committee member Jeff Amo said explaining that some companies will offer a lower price the first year and then increase the price in the future years.

County board chairman Ray Ransom felt like this would still be the best time to move since anything could happen next year, “It is very advantageous when you can move and it not cost you any money.”

Besides the price, Deno noted very few differences between the current plan and the new one in regards to coverage.

“The only thing different that I noticed was the specialty drug, the tier four drug, there is actually a $200 a prescription co-pay on that versus the 20 percent,” Deno said.

Moving to the new plan would mean Jackson County employees would have to go through the Gundersen Lutheran and UW Health systems though instead of the Mayo Clinic system Health Traditions worked with.

Deno said that the insurance would include coverage at Krohn Clinic, Black River Memorial Hospital and most of the chiropractors in Black River Falls. The insurance plan would cover vision at the Gundersen Lutheran eye clinic in Black River Falls, but probably not other optometry locations in Jackson County.

The county would still retain their current Health Reimbursement Account, which Deno said is saving the county more than $600,000 a year versus having a lower deductible.

The county expects employees will not have to fill out new forms to apply for the new insurance and is planning on conducting sessions with their employees to discuss the change.

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Editor

Jordan is the editor of the Jackson County Chronicle. He was born-and-raised in Taylor, Wis. and now he and his family live in Alma Center, Wis. Contact him at 715-284-0085.

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