Porter County looks to lower insurance costs
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 8, 2012 1:48PM
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:38PM
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Board of Commissioners is looking at a switch in its health insurance plan that could potentially save the county $1.3 million to $2 million a year, but would mean higher deductibles for the plan’s participants.
Commissioners, who are grappling with spiraling health care costs for the county, learned about the plan at their meeting Tuesday, and could make a decision at their next meeting on Aug. 21.
Deductibles under the proposed plan would be $2,500 for singles and $5,000 for families, said Stewart Miller, a certified employee benefit specialist.
The plan also offers a health spending account, which allows participants to put pre-tax dollars aside in an account to pay for medical expenses. Unlike a flexible spending account, the funds in a health spending account can roll over each year.
About 600 county employees and elected officials take the county’s health insurance plan; with family members, the total number of participants is about 1,400, said Mike Anton, the plan’s servicing agent.
The county pays around $15,800 per employee for health benefits, said Commission President John Evans, R-North.
In other business:
Commissioners appointed Ralph Ayres, a member of the Duneland School Board, to serve as a non-voting member on the recently reformed Redevelopment Commission. Ayres joins five voting members of the group, appointed by the commissioners and the Porter County Council.
Michelle Smith will serve as interim director of the Memorial Opera House, and commissioners will soon announce an interim director for the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds. Brian Schafer, who led both entities, resigned as of July 27. “There will not be one person in two jobs as there were in the past,” Evans said.
Improvements will be coming to the intersection of Smoke and Division roads, thanks to an $856,000 federal grant channeled through the Indiana Department of Transportation. Commissioners approved a 20 percent match for the grant last year but the funding was delayed, said Ray Riddell, the county’s director of engineering.
Work to lower the hill and improve sight lines at the intersection, which has been the site of at least one fatality, will take place in 2015, Riddell said.