LACONIA — Belknap County commissioners say a recent switch of medical insurance providers will save the county $150,000 a year in health insurance costs next year and that they are hoping negotiations currently underway with three county unions will produce even more health insurance savings.
Commission Chairman David DeVoy told members of the Belknap County Convention during Monday night's public hearing on the county's proposed 2016 budget that, starting Jan. 1, county employees will switch from the current provider, Health Trust, to the New Hampshire Interlocal Trust, which partners with the nonprofit Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare to provide group health insurance plans for local governments.
The three State Employee Association-affiliated unions at the Belknap County Home, Corrections Department and Sheriff's Department, agreed last month to make the switch as they agreed that the new plan was comparable to the health trust plan.
The county in September received a $250,000 refund from the Health Trust and waited to receive that refund before considering switching insurers, as it would not have been eligible for the refund had it switched earlier.
DeVoy said the county is now hoping to convince the three unions to switch to a site-of-service plan that will lower rates and keep a so-called "Cadillac tax" from taking effect in 2018, which would force the county to pay a 40 percent tax on plans which exceed the cost limit.
One county union, Teamsters Local 633, which represents 23 mid-level managers, has already agreed to switch to the less expensive site-of-service health care plan. Members received a 1.4 percent pay raise as well as step increases of up to 3 percent in a collective bargaining agreement approved by the Convention by a 10-5 vote in August.
"We're very hopeful we can get employees off of the Cadillac plan and on to a site-of-service plan," DeVoy told the convention.
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