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Hall County employee health costs going up
Workers premiums will increase by about $27 a month
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Hall County employees will soon see their health insurance costs rise.

The Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to reinstate contributions to employee retirement accounts rather than offsetting increased costs to the employees’ health insurance plan with $1.5 million generated in the landfill enterprise fund.

County Administrator Charley Nix asked the commission to use the funds to soften the austerity measures employees have been under for more than two years.

The county faces a projected 10.4 percent increase in health care costs for fiscal year 2011, which begins in July.

“By the end of the year if we don’t raise rates we could, if current trends continue, run a deficit of about $600,000,” said Assistant County Administrator Phil Sutton. “Health insurance costs have been going up.”

For the past five years, the county has incrementally increased rates to adjust for rising costs. Despite the five-year plan, adjustments still have to be made next year.

“This is very similar to the kinds of adjustments we had been making,” Sutton said.

Though premium costs will go up by about $27 a month for employees, costs will still be below state and national averages.

“We have a Cadillac plan compared to most,” Nix said. “Even if we were in a good year we have to keep pace.”

The effects of the new federal health care law are not contributing to the increasing costs, Sutton said.

The only changes the law will make to the county’s health insurance plan will be extending coverage to children until age 26, up from 25 and removing the lifetime limit of $2 million.

“Most of the stuff we were already complying with,” Sutton said.

Chairman Tom Oliver said he was glad the commission voted to restart retirement contributions through the end of the fiscal year.

“Once you’ve see the comparison to boards of education and other cities and counties I think we have an excellent plan,” Oliver said. “I’m just delighted we were able to put the retirement back and I will support keeping it from now on.”

Regional events