CONYERS - Rockdale County healthcare premiums will see another double-digit increase for the second consecutive year in 2016.
The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) unanimously approved a recommendation to renew its contract with medical insurance provider Cigna, which has been providing the county with healthcare insurance since 2013.
The new contract will raise the county's annual premium by 10.17 percent next year. This comes after Cigna raised the county's premiums by as much as 20 percent for the 2015 calendar year.
Ward Morse, senior vice-president for Willis Consulting, explained to the BOC the premiums were going up due to "the general nature of the medical industry" but also because the county's premium has been "outpaced" by the actual claims. Morse says the county's claims cost are about 144 percent higher than the premium and an acceptable range is usually about 70 to 80 percent higher.
"That's just not something that's sustainable," he told the board during Tuesday's called meeting.
County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt wondered how much the percentage increase would affect each individual employee. After doing her own calculations, County Commissioner Doreen Williams stated the average cost would be about an additional $10 for an individual healthcare plan and $29 for a family plan per paycheck.
There are wellness initiatives in place to help reduce an employee's cost. If an employee fills out a smoking affidavit, which tells Cigna whether you're a smoker or non-smoker, get a biometric screening, and takes an online health survey, they can see their monthly premium drop by as much as $100. There are also educational health classes an employee can take as well to reduce cost.
Rockdale Chairman and CEO Richard Oden urged all employees to participate in the wellness initiatives to help reduce future cost to the county.
"When you're in better health our premium goes down," said Oden. "So we want to encourage everyone to get fit."
Nesbitt took this opportunity to advocate for a 5 percent salary increase "across the board" for all employees in the wake of the rising healthcare costs. He also attempted to get Rockdale County Human Resource Director Darryl Bowie to explain the implementation plan for the 4 percent pay-for-performance salary increase that was approved by the county during last year's budget cycle, but Oden halted the discussion.
"Let's stick to the issue here," Oden said. "We can discuss that later."
As part of the recommendations, the county will leave Delta Dental and move to Cigna for dental insurance. This will decrease the dental insurance premium by about 1.2 percent in 2016.
BlueCross BlueShield will continue to provide the county with vision insurance in 2016, but its rate will increase by 9 percent.