A 2020 health insurance package for county employees with a 9.9% premium increase was approved unanimously by the Anoka County Board Sept. 24.

But the premium hike from the county’s provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, could have been worse.

According to Bill Keller, central services director, the 2018 renewal included a premium cap for 2019 and 2020 of 12.5%, but that was renegotiated down to 9.9% for both years.

Indeed, although the health insurance premium increase is 9.9%, Blue Cross calculated a rate increase of more than 21%, Keller said.

Keller outlined new health care programs that are part of the 2020 package.

• Digital care programs intended to empower employees with obesity-related chronic disease and Type 2 diabetes

• Insulin coverage at no cost.

• A fitness incentives program called Sharecare that replaces the club-based Fitness Discount program to encourage all members to take part in health activities.

• Learn to Live program for stress, anxiety and worry, depression and social anxiety.

• Blue365, a program that offers premier health and wellness discounts.

In addition, the county provides $1,000 in a health reimbursement account for single coverage and $2,000 for a family to help offset deductibles, according to Keller.

There are no changes in the plan design for the four health care plans the county offers its employees through Blue Cross: Aware HRA with $2,000 deductible for single and $4,000 for family; HRA Regional with $2,000 deductible for single and $4,000 for family; Aware HRA with $3,000 deductible for single and $6,000 for family; and HRA Regional with $3,000 deductible for single and $6,000 for family.

According to Keller, the Aware plans are more expensive because they offer employees more flexibility in providers, while the HRA Regional limits providers.

More than 1,800 county employees have signed up for the county’s health care package, and when families are counted, membership totals more than 4,000, Keller said.

Commissioner Matt Look credited staff for negotiating premiums “significantly lower” than they started, but “9.9% is still a lot” and health care costs are “unreasonable in the market place,” he said.

The board also approved contracts for life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance as well as long-term disability and voluntary short-term disability insurance with no rate increases plus voluntary vision materials only insurance, which has a 3% rate decrease.

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