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County weighing insurance change

Proposal for retirees would save $470,000

September 19, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FONDA - Montgomery County may switch to a new insurance plan for county retirees, saving the county about $470,000.

The Personnel Committee on Tuesday pushed forward a suggestion to the full Board of Supervisors to switch to the Medicare Advantage Plan, which would cover more than 200 retired employees.

Darren Moser, vice president of finance at Benetech, the county's health insurance consultant, said the Medicare Advantage Plan would allow retirees enrolled in Medicare to pay no copay for office visits, but they would not receive a $100 reimbursement for Medicare Part B premium costs. Instead, the reimbursements would go to the county.

The plan, according to Benetech, would save each eligible retiree $16.65 a month in premiums. Each couple would save $33.31 a month.

However, Personnel Director Richard Baia said that under the new plan, retirees would spend more in copays for prescription drugs than they do now.

Baia said the current insurance plan charges nothing for generic prescription drugs. With the new plan, generic drugs would cost $10 apiece and brand names $20.

Baia said he would like to see an amendment to the plan saying if someone were to not pay their premiums in a given amount of time, he or she would be removed from the Medicare Advantage Plan. According to Baia, he has a few retirees who have yet to pay their late fees or premiums.

Benetech Account Manager Marissa Dalmata said the switch would include three major changes. Retirees no longer would be responsible for paying a deductible if they visit a non-Blue Shield provider; diabetes supplies would be covered in full; and CanaRx no longer would be an option for prescription drugs.

One of the other suggested insurance plans would save the county an additional $90,000 but would require retirees to pay a $25 copay.

Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Anthony Stark said he was concerned with letting that money go.

"It's a $90,000 difference," he said, reminding the board of the county's projected $3 million shortfall in the upcoming 2013 budget and the chance of employee layoffs. "I think we owe it to the current employees about to get the ax to save what we can."

"This is affecting the group that has a fixed income," said Root Supervisor John Thayer. "The $25 copay is something they currently don't have to pay, and I don't see where leaving $90,000 on the table is going to make a difference between closing our doors and keeping Montgomery County open."

Florida Town Supervisor William Strevy agreed with Thayer, saying he believes the new plan benefits the county and the retirees.

The plan switch would have to be approved by the full Board of Supervisors, which will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the County Office Building.

Arthur Cleveland is the Montgomery County Reporter. He can be reached at



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