PITTSFIELD – Although Pike County agreed to renew its contract with the HOPE Trust healthcare plan for insurance coverage on Monday, some members of the county board are concerned about additional spending in 2022 that could amount to six digits.
As part of the HOPE Trust plan, the county contributes monthly to a common self-insurance risk pool for all members. The trust then purchases reinsurance coverage on behalf of all members and pays claims and other expenses directly.
Pike County President Jim Sheppard said quotes from four insurance agents had been received, but due to a limited time to provide notice of cancellation, the board decided when ‘a special meeting to renew his contract with the HOPE Trust.
Under its current contract, the county is required to provide 120 days’ notice that it would cancel its agreement with the HOPE Trust. The county is expected to issue the notice by Thursday if it wants to cancel its contract for 2022.
“Next year, we’ll just have to start earlier on these things and do it in a more organized way,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard added that any changes to the health insurance plan will be the responsibility of the Insurance Committee, which will meet in mid-September.
Derek Ross, a member of the Pike County Board of Directors, said that while there are other plans available under the HOPE Trust next year, renewal rates could increase up to $ 200,000 for calendar year 2022 if county customers remained on their existing plans.
Ross also said the potential savings from alternative insurance plans had not been discussed in front of the full board.
“There was no research to get a final number to see if we could save the money,” Ross said.
The subject of researching health insurance offers as a potential cost-cutting measure has been debated by the county council for over a year.
At a county board meeting in July 2020, Ross proposed that the county tender its health insurance and meet before the renewal of the HOPE Trust plan. However, the motion did not receive a second.
Ross had previously objected to the county’s practice of covering reinsurance premiums from its liability fund instead of its general fund and wanted to make sure its insurance expenses were in accordance with the law.
An informal legal opinion from the United Counties of Illinois Council in 2017 stated that reinsurance is not a qualifying tort fund expenditure under state law. However, Sheppard said that with a general fund reserve of less than $ 500,000, there is a financial necessity to cover reinsurance premiums from the liability fund.
Ross had said that by not comparing insurance, it is impossible to know if the county is receiving the best coverage at the most affordable price. He eventually made a request to discuss health insurance offers the following month, but a motion to seek offers was rejected 4-2.