County keeps Blues


News Editor

IRON MOUNTAIN – Dickinson County will stand pat on its Blue Cross Blue Shield health coverage for employees after exploring a potential cost-saving offer from Consumers Mutual Insurance (CMI).

The CMI offer, effective until the end of March, promised substantial savings but also required changes in coverage, said Nicole Frost, county controller. In considering CMI’s plan, the county sought input from employees and retirees.

According to the county ‘s insurance committee, the initial feedback was “overwhelmingly negative in regards to a carrier change.” The committee, however, said it wants to work towards a smoother insurance plan selection for 2015.

“We want to come up with a solution beneficial to everyone involved,” said Commissioner John Degenaer Jr., the committee chairman.

The county board Monday accepted the committee’s recommendation to “not rush into a decision” regarding a health insurance carrier.

East Lansing-based CMI, a new type of nonprofit mutual insurance company, was launched in May 2013 and came forward with a Dickinson County plan earlier this year.

The projected Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance cost for Dickinson County in 2014 is nearly $2.25 million, including an employee share of nearly $300,000. CMI estimated savings in the range of $170,000, but with changes in the network of doctors, prescription drug benefits and dental coverage, among others.

With labor contracts expiring at the end of 2014, County Board Chairman Henry Wender in late 2013 named Degenaer to head an insurance committee to investigate the county’s options. Degenaer also heads a negotiating committee to handle talks with the county’s bargaining units.

Commissioner Barbara Kramer also serves on both committees.

In other action Monday, the county board:

– In relation to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, adopted a policy retaining the part-time status of part-time employees, with those hours to be managed at the department head level.

– Learned that a sideboard on the landing hill at the Pine Mountain ski jump incurred minor damage during last weekend’s Masters Racing Circuit snowmobile hill climb at the adjoining Bulldozer slope. An inspection for repairs will have to wait until spring.

– Adopted an updated Michigan Public Safety Communications System Integration Agreement with the state, reflecting the recent installation of a new 911 emergency dispatch system at the correctional center.

– Heard Commissioner Joe Stevens remark that a planned welding lab and other manufacturing skills programs at Bay College’s West Campus (as reported in the March 8 edition of The Daily News) is “a good step forward.”

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