Board switches insurance carrier

Published 7:25 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2007

After a small discussion about what a different insurance company could provide county employees, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors chose to switch insurance carriers.

BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi Sales Director Steve Gregory and Liz Raymond, Senior Vice President for insurance broker HUB International Gulf South Limited, discussed with the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors the benefits of switching county employee insurance to BlueCross BlueShield.

Some of the coverage would include a $20 co-pay, smoking cessation programs to help the insured lead healthier lives and inclusion of all hospitals and most doctors in their network.

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“From a network stand point, it’s going to be much more broad than the network you have in place,” Gregory said.

Deductibles would be cut in half as compared to the county’s current insurance carrier, United Health Care, Raymond said.

One county employee asked a board member to inquire about gastric bypass surgery coverage. Gregory said BlueCross BlueShield does not cover those operations since there is a need for continued post surgery medical care. That care includes meeting with a dietitian and a counselor on a regular basis, which most patients fail to do.

“If those things are not done, you will be in worse shape than before you had the surgery,” Gregory said.

Gregory said that in the long run gastric bypass and lap band surgeries create more problems for the patient.

However, the company will help people lead healthier lives. BlueCross BlueShield’s smoking cessation program will help employees quit smoking in 90 days through the company’s 100 percent insurance covered program.

Deductibles were covered in more detail during the meeting. District I Supervisor Anthony Hales asked if any out of pocket money he paid on medical care would be counted towards his deductible, since he’s had problems with previous insurance carriers.

“If I went somewhere and paid (out of pocket), it should have went towards my deductible,” Hales said.

With BlueCross BlueShield, any out of pocket money, excluding co-pay, will count towards the deductible, Gregory said.

After more deliberation on the cost and possible annual increases were covered, which Raymond said would all be determined upon year to year evaluations, the board approved a motion to switch county employee insurance to BlueCross BlueShield.

The Sheriff’s Department announced at the last board meeting that contracts with Hancock County and the federal government to hold their prisoners have been renewed and fees have been increased, District II Supervisor Danny Wise said at Monday’s meeting. Pearl River County will now receive $5 more per day, putting the total at $35 a day, to hold Hancock County’s prisoners. Pearl River County has been holding Hancock County’s prisoners ever since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their jail.

Holding federal prisoners will earn the county $10 more a day, putting that total at $40 a day. Wise said the county recently signed a new contract to continue to hold federal prisoners. Chief Deputy Julie Flowers said that once a year the federal government sends inspectors to inspect the jail to ensure it is approved to house their prisoners. The next inspection is scheduled for November.

The board then went into executive session to discuss pending litigation. When supervisors came out of executive session, they approved settling a pending lawsuit for $1,000.

In other business the board:

— Accepted a credit invoice for money being paid back to the county for hurricane clean up fraud. District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen pointed out that the amount of clean up fraud in this county after Hurricane Katrina was less than a half of a percent.

— Approved advertising for public hearings on a Community Development Block Grant for Hurricane Katrina grant applications to fund building repairs and reconstructions.

The next board meeting will be 9 a.m. Tuesday Sept. 4, at the county courthouse in Poplarville.