COEUR d’ALENE — Health insurance costs for employees of the department will not increase next year.
County commissioners on Wednesday approved a recommendation from Alliant Employee Benefits to make no changes to employee contributions or benefits in 2023.
Major costs, including medical and dental claims, are expected to increase by 4.9% between 2022 and 2023, from approximately $11.8 million to approximately $12.4 million.
That’s partly because some people who were unable or chose not to access certain care due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now doing so, Alliant representatives told the commissioners.
Economic factors also play a role.
“Inflation is starting to have an impact on drug prices,” Alliant representative David Smith said.
The county’s projected cost for 2022 is about $10 million, while next year’s cost is expected to be about $10.6 million.
Commissioners also approved a partnership with Edison Healthcare to provide additional benefits.
Edison offers medical “tourism” coverage for major procedures such as transplants and spine surgeries at select facilities. Members using approved facilities, which would include the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, pay no deductibles or disbursements.
The county will pay $63,000 per year for the program. Participation is voluntary for employees.
Commissioners will also consider contracting with PMR Healthcare to provide direct primary care to county employees at a clinic near the site.
Those who use the clinic for care would pay no deductible or co-pay.
Participation is voluntary and geared toward employees who do not have a primary care provider, although individuals who do may choose to switch.
Clinic staffing would be based on historical claims data. The stand-alone clinic in Kootenai County would likely be staffed with a primary care physician and a nurse.
The program is said to have a significant initial cost – about $1.3 million, plus a one-time setup fee of $250,000 – as well as an ongoing annual cost of about $1.1 million.
Alliant representative Scott Burkhardt said two major employers in the area were considering PMR Healthcare, although he could not reveal which ones.
No PMR clinic exists locally. Commissioner Leslie Duncan said she intended to visit a clinic in Boise in September.
After that, county officials are expected to pursue the matter further.