The Rusk County Commissioners met Thursday in a special called workshop to hear a presentation from representatives of Texas Association of Counties (TAC) for a mid-year review of the 2021/2022 Employee Health Insurance Plan.

TAC is a Health and Employee Benefits Pool for counties in Texas that join in order to try and get lower costs for health insurance. Jonathon Collander and Shameria Davis are representative for TAC and presented the review.

“This has been a tough year for Rusk County. You chose the $3,000 deductible plan,” said Collander. Your loss ratio is 142% and the target ratio is usually 96%. December ’21 and March ’22 was your toughest months. As a result of this (increased ratio) your cost will probably be a 10% increase.”

According to Collander and Davis the higher claimants were because of COVID. From January 2021 through March 2022 the County had a 142.04 % total loss ratio. The report shows that in December 2021 the total contributed to the plan was $238,537.60 but the amount paid out was $680,958.15, a loss ratio of 285.47%. In March 2022 the total contributed to the plan was $249,746.14 but the amount paid out was $938,462.35, a loss ratio of 142.04%.

The presentation also showed an increase in the rolling claims for 36 months for medical and RX, the top 10 high-cost claimants from April 2021 through March 2022 and the top 10 RX claims for the same period. There were 639 COVID claims for a total of $4,210,420.7 paid.

Through out the entire presentation Judge Joel Hale and all four County Commissioners asked lots of questions trying to understand why their cost were escalating this coming period. The recommendations they received were to re-educate employees on importance of annual physical and preventive screening as the numbers are low, restart discussions about implementing a wellness incentive plan as a strategy and keep plans to do the internal county contest and a lunch and learn on site.

The main concern with the Commissioners seemed to be how can they lower their employee healthcare cost and what were other counties doing to keep their ratios low.

Collander and Davis told them to lower costs the could have higher deductibles and copays or change from a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO plant to a Blue Cross Blue Shield HOM plan. They also told the Commissioners that the employee preventive participation is very low and should be higher.

Commissioner Greg Gibson wanted to know when would they receive the actual costs for the plan they chose which they replied “around July or August.”

From now until then they all agreed to have a monthly meeting to determine what direction would be beneficial to both the employees and the County to bring the costs for the healthcare plan down.

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