TRUMBULL COUNTY Health plan faces a vote; changes could save money

The reason for the proposed health-care changes is to cut costs, county officials said.
WARREN -- Trumbull County can save nearly $2 million by switching employees to a less luxurious health-care plan, consultants told a gathering of elected county officials.
The employees will probably not like the changes, which includes paying for part of the cost of doctors' visits and monthly premiums.
County commissioners are expected to vote today on changing the health-care plan for about 900 county employees effective August 1.
"What the county is doing, everybody is doing," said John Meehan, a senior vice president of Willis of Ohio, a company contracted to review Trumbull's insurance options.
Who's affected
The county's unionized employees have accepted that their health-care plan will be cut back.
The rest of the county's workers will be asked to accept the same changes, including paying an escalating portion of insurance premiums, as their contracts come up for renewal, said James Keating, the county's director of human resources.
The commissioners will unilaterally impose the health insurance changes on nonbargaining-unit employees, including judges and elected officials, said commissioner Michael O'Brien.
He said the increasing cost of health care is the reason for the change.
"We are trying to control costs for our constituents," O'Brien said.
New plan
Under current plans, which are paid for entirely by the county, employees do not suffer any out-of-pocket expense when they visit a doctor. They also can visit any doctor they wish, Keating said.
The county had been paying about $11,000 a year for employees on its traditional plan, and $8,000 a year for employees in the HMO.
Meehan said most employers pay about $5,000 a year per employee.
Under the insurance plan he recommends, employees would have to use a particular network of doctors to get the best insurance coverage.
They would also have to pay 20 percent of the cost of visits to in-network doctors until an annual deductible is met, he said.
Workers for the engineer's department are insured separately from other county workers.