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County’s port agency gets insurance surprise

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Blue Cross flip-flops projected price increase

By KEVIN KOELLING
Managing Editor

TELL CITY – The operations manager and trainmaster for the Perry County Port Authority and Hoosier Southern Railroad said at a meeting June 11 the agency’s health-insurance provider pulled a switch.

Kevin Teague told the board previously Blue Cross had projected a 24-percent price hike but responded to a backlash from small businesses with an offer to increase prices only 5.7 percent as they extended current coverage to the end of the year.

“We got a bill … for all but the 5.7 percent,” he told the board at their latest meeting. “I contacted Blue Cross, and originally they told me there was no such letter and I’d lost my mind.”

He had insurance agent Pete Franzman “talk to the people he talks to, and they said, ‘well, the letter was badly worded. What we meant to say was you’re going to get all the increase except for the 5.7 percent now.’ So we went and found another provider.”

Under the current policy, with the all-but-5.7-percent increase, “starting in December, we’ll be paying $9,119.01 a month to cover seven employees,” Teague continued.

Under a Sagamore Health Network policy, the cost will drop to $6,650.91 monthly, less than what the port-rail agency paid in 2012, and the new policy will bring much better vision and dental coverage, Teague said. It will require a $30 copay and $1,500 in-network deductible and will begin July 1.

Teague said Thursday Sagamore is a subsidiary of Standard Security Life of New York.

Three of the employees pay half of their family premiums, he explained, “so there’s a couple thousand that actually comes back; in reality we’re only paying like $7,200 or $7,300, and we would only be paying a little over $4,000.”

“Once you pay that $1,500, you’re 100-percent covered,” the trainmaster said. “There’s no 80-percent coverage, which is what we have with Blue Cross.” The family deductible will be $3,000 and all of the local doctors are in the company’s network, he added.

Teague also said the coverage will protect the employees on and off the job.

The board voted to approve the change.

Member Tom Holm compared insurance to satellite-TV coverage.

“You almost have to change every two or three years,” he said. “I don’t understand why when you’re an incumbent for somebody, they keep jacking the rates, and you go somewhere else, you do a lot better.”

“That seems to be pretty common,” he added.

Teague said the agency had very few claims last year and the majority of its employees “never even went to the doctor except for minor stuff (like) colds and flu. But Blue Cross bases their increases on age bands. They all do, but Blue Cross’s age bands are much smaller than everybody else’s, it seems. I think we had two or three people who moved up in age bands.”

River Road Update

In other business, board Chairman Alvin Evans said all rights-of-way needed for a River Road improvement project had been secured and he’d been told “everything’s flowing properly” through the Indiana Department of Transportation “so everything should be on schedule for an August letting.”

Teague said he had received bids for 2,000 replacement ties to go into an Industrial Rail Service Fund Project. It will also entail the resurfacing of five miles of track. The board voted to advertise the project and solicit bids.