Costs down on county employee health plan

ALBANY, Ga. — An official with the Dougherty County employees’ group health insurance consulting firm told county commissioners Monday that their insurance costs are down because the county’s employees are healthier.

Spencer Allen, the senior vice president with Wells Fargo Insurance Services, told commissioners at their business meeting that per-employee insurance costs in the county are currently 16 percent below government norm ($9,150 compared to $9,900) and 34 percent below the county’s rate in 2009.

“The overall reason your costs are down considerably is that your (employee) population is healthier,” Allen told the commission. “Since 2009, claims are down considerably for digestive, cancer, circulatory and our catch-all general health issues.”

Allen told the board its health plan has avoided some $4.5 million in spending over the past 3 1/2 years and that it actually now had a fund balance of around a half-million dollars. The Wells Fargo executive said action being considered for the county in the coming year includes possibly adding a dental network to cut costs, doing more with its wellness program, increasing prevention numbers and working more to improve individual disease management.

“This is certainly the kind of good news we like to hear,” Commissioner Lamar Hudgins said.

Also at the meeting, the commission voted to approve $60,147.12 in funding for 12 mobile computer units that will be utilized by Dougherty County Police Department officers; OK’d using $221,677.20 to purchase two ambulances for Emergency Medical Services, and approved reallocation of $46,613.60 in special-purpose local-option sales tax funds to equip 80 additional radios with encryption chips that will allow deputies in the Dougherty County Jail to communicate with other law enforcement officers.

The commission approved a resolution calling for funding from secondary metals recycling fees in the county to be sent to the Georgia Sheriff’s Association so that the organization can compile a statewide database on recyclers. The board also OK’d its Governmental Affairs Committee’s recommended appointed board communications policy.