County health care costs are becoming too hot to handle

By Toni Gibbons

Health care is a hot topic and as Jason Andrade, Employee Benefits Consultant, explained at the Navajo County Board of Supervisor’s meeting on Nov. 28, “The plan, or trust, itself is running really hot, meaning that the expenses are increasing at a rate that responsibly need to cool down.”

Andrade defined his terminology for the word hot, which is an actual insurance term.  “The last 12 rolling months we have had roughly $6.3 million in overall claims and when you add on the fixed cost associated with that, there is an additional $1 million. And we are running at about 10 percent injuries right now.  So if we did nothing, we would increase our liability as a trust with the county by about $700,000. That is an unsustainable trend increase for the area as well as the plan.”

Typically, when a plan is running hot, the common solution is to transfer the cost back to the employees by increasing deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.  But for county employees, the goal is to structure the administrative side to greater efficiency.

Some of those highlights include: a new third party administrator; an inpatient-outpatient facility partnership (a company that will specifically negotiate inpatient and outpatient claims) and all providers will now be considered in network regardless of the provider.

Additionally, a Personal Healthcare Navigator will be available for every employee to aid in the process of finding the best and most affordable care. Incentives also have been added to the Employee Wellness Program to encourage more preventative health care.

In other business, the board:

* Approved the appointment of David Antonini as Justice of the Peace Pro Tempore Judge.

* Authorized the county to conduct a city council election for the City of Winslow, and board member elections for Timberland Acres Special Road District and White Mountain Special Road District, each to be held on March 13, 2018; and board member elections for White Mountain Summer Home Domestic Water Improvement District on May 15, 2018.

* Authorized Navajo County Assistant Manager Paul Watson as signer on behalf of Northeastern Arizona Innovative Workforce Solutions (NAIWS) and Navajo County, for the purpose of the Intergovernmental Facilities Lease Agreement between the City of Show Low and Northeastern Arizona Innovative Workforce Solutions.

* Approved the Navajo County Hazardous Materials Response Plan.

* Approved an application for an Agent Change/Acquisition of Control of a Liquor License for Robert Harold Holman of Pinetop Country Club, Inc., in Pinetop.

* Approved a new liquor license application for Christian Marcus Otzen, Lorenz Durham Otzen Jr., Linda Margaret Otzen, Patrick Michael Nackard, Palmer Michael Nackard, Monica Jewel Nackard and James Joseph Davis of Legacy Beverage, LLC, in Show Low.

* Approved an amendment to continue to provide Women Infant and Children services for the federal fiscal year 2018 within the county.

* Approved an updated price sheet for six public health programs including, Tobacco & Chronic Disease, Family Planning, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Injury Prevention, Accreditation, and Health in Arizona Policy Initiative totaling $515,858.  These programs are funded through a Healthy People Healthy Communities block grant.

* Authorized an agreement between the Public Health Services District and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to provide the functions, powers, and duties authorized under the Smoke Free Arizona Act.

* Approved an agreement between the Public Health Services District and the ADHS to enhance the receiving and managing of public health surveillance information.

* Authorized drainage easements over and across real property in the Sky Hi Retreat community to the county for drainage, construction and maintenance purposes.