County to study request to join insurance pool

April 30, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The Carroll County commissioners told the Manchester Tow Council yesterday that they need time to think about the council's request that Manchester town employees be allowed to join the county employees' health insurance pool.

At a meeting yesterday in Manchester between the commissioners and the Town Council, Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said, "It's something that may possibly work," but added that it is not something the county could jump into quickly.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy replied, "Maybe we shouldn't jump out of it real fast without studying the aspects."

Manchester has 13 full-time employees, and one position that is vacant. But only seven town employees now receive health insurance through the town, said Mayor Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr.

He said, "We have such a small group. . . . We're getting ripped bad."

About 800 Carroll County employees and their families participate in the county's self-insurance pool, said Jimmie Lynn Saylor, director of the county Department of Human Resources.

She said pool members pay into a fund, out of which members' claims are paid. Claims larger than $150,000 a person per year are paid through an outside insurance company.

Pool members may select from three health plans. The pool is administered by Connecticut General, Ms. Saylor said.

The cost for health coverage for pool members is $3,400 a year, Ms. Saylor said, and that figure has remained constant for two years.

In contrast, coverage for Manchester employees will cost about $6,200 a person this year, Mr. Warehime said.

Ms. Saylor said the county would have to consider carefully whether accepting town employees into the pool would expose the pool to unacceptable levels of risk.

But Manchester Town Manager Terry Short said, "We should actually be lowering your risk."

He said the town employees would increase the pool, and the risk would be shared among more people.

Also, Ms. Saylor said, the commissioners would have to consider admitting employees of all eight incorporated towns and cities in the county.

"Why would we say 'yes' to Manchester and 'no' to Hampstead?" she said.

Another consideration, she said, is that it took several years for the county to realize a savings through self-insurance.

She said county has an aggressive wellness program. For example, employees are screened for problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, she said, and the county health department has provided flu shots for county employees.

Manchester Councilman Geoffrey S. Black said Manchester could agree to be bound by such wellness requirements.

He said the town has the same incentive as the county to reduce medical costs, and added, "It's not like we're going to be bringing in a hundred lepers to milk your county dollars."

Ms. Saylor also said that the county employees have learned to be good consumers of health care.

"They've done a superb job of taking care of their own medical needs as good consumers," she said, adding that that took years of education.

In the end, County Commissioner Donald I. Dell suggested the commissioners review Manchester's request and report back later.

Mr. Warehime told the commissioners he would like to have their response by June.

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