The biggest expense for any county government in Indiana is personnel but after that, one of the larger expenses is insurance. Daviess County, over the years, has taken several steps to try and keep its insurance rates under control, especially those that cover the health insurance of the employees.
That’s why this year the county put its insurance service out to bid. In all, six companies responded. Four of those firms wound up making presentations to the county’s insurance committee. The committee then whittled that number down to two local firms, Thompson Insurance and Hoosier Insurance.
The companies made lengthy proposals to the committee and then made a more abbreviated presentation to the commissioners before the commissioners made a decision.
“It’s very complicated,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Nathan Gabhart, who also sits on the insurance committee. “We had to break it down and analyze it one piece at a time. At one meeting, they talk about fixed costs and at the next meeting they talk about variable costs. At the end of the day, we need to know what the total cost is. They throw these numbers around and you think you are ahead and then you think you are behind and what you really need to know is the total cash outlay.”
The county selected Hoosier Insurance and it appears the outlay includes some good news. “That was the good thing about the process,” said Gabhart. “We were able to drill down. With Hoosier Insurance and M.J. Insurance partnering together, we’re looking at decreasing our spending by $400,000. When you factor in the $80,000 projected increase that was wiped out and now the projected $320,000 decrease, it’s a $400,000 spread.”
Hoosier retained the county contract. It did have to take on a larger partner to come up with the improved numbers. County officials say that after months of looking at and hearing the proposals, they feel they got the best deal.
“It was a very open and fair process,” said Gabhart. “Everyone was allowed to participate. We spent a lot of time on it. We are satisfied with the process and the outcome. We are excited to help decrease the expense and provide the same service to our employees.”
The employees will apparently not see that $400,000 decrease in the form of rates they pay monthly for health insurance. “Most of that decrease will come in claims costs,” explained Gabhart. “The county is the one paying those claims. The employee pays the premiums and we take care of the claims. The employee cost share is as low as anybody could possible dream of. It is still a very low share for the individual subscriber. Families pay more but it is still less that the private sector. Our goal for next year is the employees cost will be flat. That is pretty good news in the world of health care today.”
Officials say they hope to see the savings wind up going back to the taxpayers. “Most of the money will be in claims costs,” said Gabhart. “That is less money out of the general fund and that ideally means lower property taxes going forward.”