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County health insurance increases by $300,000

An increase of more than $300,000 to Jasper County’s employee benefits was approved Tuesday by the board of supervisors. The benefits, which include health, dental and vision coverage, are provided through Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and increased at an average rate of 16.35 percent across plans.

Human Resources Director Dennis Simon and Bob Meller, of Meller Insurance and Consulting, gave an overview of the coverage to the board about what county employees can expect for the coming year. Unlike the county’s fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30, the new benefits plan year starts Jan. 1.

“We had a little bit larger than anticipated increase,” Meller said. “I went out and got a quote from United Healthcare and the rates there are a 21.05 percent increase, just confirming that Wellmark did rate us correctly for the renewal.”

For the county, employee’s medical plan contribution is 10 percent for both single and family coverage with the county fulfilling the remaining 90 percent. Under the traditional plan, the single rate increase is 13.31 percent with the family rate going up 13.63 percent. Currently, the county has 43 singles and 56 families on that plan.

The high deductible plan offered by Wellmark to county employees has an increase of 13.62 percent for singles and 14.05 percent for those using the family plan. The county has 28 singles and 46 families on that plans.

“The total population here is 173 contracts and the current monthly premium is $182,511 and the renewal premium is $207,529 per month. That is the gross premium of what the county and the employees are paying,” Meller said.

Dental coverage through Delta Dental and vision insurance through Principal Life Company both remained the same as the previous year.

While the increase is robust, the county prepared for the potential addition by including it in the previous budget.

“I think when asked I recommended 12 percent, and the county went one more percent,” Simon said.

A new service provided to employees through the insurance company is Telehealth. Through an app on a smart device called Doctor on Demand, people can communicate through the app with a medical professional about symptoms and treatment with a co-payment attached to the service.

“We’re fortunate in the past five years, the renewal rate has been in the single digits,” supervisor Joe Brock said. “I know some other counties that had some big increases.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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