By Donna Gregory Burch
As health care costs rise, so does the expense of providing health insurance benefits for county employees and their dependents.
Last fiscal year, Chesterfield and Henrico counties spent a combined $1.3 billion for employee health insurance, and rates typically increase every year. Since localities depend on tax revenues to fund such expenses, county taxpayers ultimately pick up the tab.
Seriously ill employees are one of the biggest contributors to rate hikes. “Premiums are based on your prior year’s claims, so the higher your claims are, the higher your rates are going to be for the next year,” explains Scott Zaremba, Chesterfield’s director of human resources.
The sickest employees and dependents drive up the costs for everyone. “Industry data shows the top 1 percent of members account for approximately 22 percent of claims costs, and the top 5 percent account for about 50 percent,” says Scott Golden, spokesperson for Anthem, which administers Chesterfield and Henrico’s health insurance plans.
County data mirrors those national figures.
In Chesterfield, during the one-year period from April 1, 2013, to March 31, this year, there were 146 employees and dependents who individually filed claims in excess of $75,000 each. That group represents less than 1 percent of those covered by the county’s health insurance plan, but it accounts for 28 percent of the total claims for the year.
Henrico’s numbers are similar. There were 124 employees and dependents with claims exceeding $75,000 each during the one-year period from May 1, 2013, to April 30, this year. Like Chesterfield, that group represents less than 1 percent of those covered by Henrico’s plan, but accounts for almost 26 percent of total claims for the year.
|Henrico Fire training staff and members of the 63rd Fire Recruit Academy participated in the 2014 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K. Last spring, Henrico County paid the 10K entry fees for about 700 employees.|
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