County Council takes steps to keep better tabs on healthcare costs

The Bartholomew County Council took steps during its meeting Tuesday night to insure the county’s health insurance trust is on solid ground.

The council voted to approve a $5.9 million appropriation that essentially moves county funds in a way to better keep track of health care expenses and the money that has been earmarked for these expenses. County Auditor Barb Hackman explained to council members that $1.2 million had already been transferred from the county’s “Rainy Day Fund” to the Employee Trust Account (ETA). In addition, $3.3 million will be transferred from the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) Fund, while another approximately $1.4 million in department contributions will go towards shoring up the trust.

Hackman explained that her office, in conjunction with Dunn & Associates will be able to keep a better tab on available funds and healthcare claims with this change. Dunn & Associates are the third-party benefit administrators hired by the county to help get county employees the most for their healthcare dollar. Hackman says that each month, a report will be generated that shows account balances and pending claims. Council members expressed hope that this would alert them to any potential issues before they become overwhelming.

The council took these steps, and others, after the 2016 budget hearings were nearly brought to a standstill by ballooning healthcare costs. A lifeline from County Commissioners, in the form of over one-million dollars that was earmarked for county roads, was gifted to the council to make up the shortfall. Commissioners made the transfer on the condition that the council would take steps to make sure the county wouldn’t find itself in a similar spot when the 2017 budget process comes around.