Supervisors hear cost of insurance premiums to fall in 2022

by Nicole Stokes

Health insurance premiums for those employed by the county will decrease this year, according to Bill Morris, who serves as Franklin County’s Blue Cross-Blue Shield agent.

“Blue Cross is going to give y’all a reduction on the rates,” Morris informed the Franklin County Board of Supervisors during the panel’s first business meeting of 2022 on Monday, Jan. 3.

“It’s going to go down 10 percent. You’ve got 52 (employees with) employee-only coverage and two that have their spouse covered for a total of 54 on the policy. Currently you’re paying $725.62 (a month) per employee … we’re going down to $653.06 – if you leave the deductible (for hospital visits, emergency room visits and outpatient procedures) at $3,000.”

Additionally, Morris gave the board pricing options to lower deductibles from $3,000 to either $2,500 or $1,500.

For a $2,500 deductible the monthly cost would be $664.05, while a $1,500 deductible would cost $697 monthly.

“Just be aware, if we have a bad year y’all may have to change your benefits again next year,” Morris said.

District 4 Supervisor Pat Larkin made a motion to lower the deductible to $1,500, The action was seconded by Board President Jimmie “Bodi” Bass, who represents District 5.

“Fifteen hundred dollars savings on the deductible for one year … that’ll help our employees out,” Bass said.

Morris also gave the supervisors the option of switching their dental and vision insurance plans to the same company that provides their group life insurance policy.

“Y’all currently have group life insurance with the Principal (Financial Group), dental insurance with Sun Life and vision insurance with what used to be AlwaysCare, that’s been bought out by a company named Unum.” Morris said.

“Sun Life also has some voluntary life insurance that’s guaranteed issued for new employees. Guaranteed issued amount is $100,000.

“I’ve contacted the Principal, giving them (your) information. They already have your life insurance. We could move the dental insurance to the Principal and give you the exact same benefits, saving you about a dollar a month.

“We would have to move the voluntary life (insurance). Here’s where it gets a little sticky – the Principal is going to require five (people to have voluntary life insurance). We only have four, so they would transfer over and we would have to get at least one other person to take that policy. The Principal is going to guarantee issue $150,000.

“The vision insurance is the same rate with the Principal that you’re paying today. The coverage is just a little bit different. Right now, AlwaysCare gives you a $10 copay at Wal-Mart. Your glasses are free and your frame allowance is $74 – but you’ve got to go to Wal-Mart to get that.

“(It pays for an) eye exam every year, new lenses every year, new frames every two years. If we move it to the Principal, they use the Vision Plan Services network, a nationwide network that also includes Wal-Mart. This would expand your network.

“(It also has a) $10 copay (and) it does have a $10 copay for your lenses, but your frame allowance goes up to $130 and your contact lens allowance goes up to $130. It’s a little bit better plan – it does give you an extra copay but it gives you a better network and it also allows us to combine the dental, vision, life insurance and voluntary life insurance all in one company.”

The board voted to change their insurance plans over to the Principal Financial Group instead of going through several different providers.

In other action during the session, supervisors:

• Heard a request from a concerned citizen for the county to put up “no littering” signs with a fine listed along Mississippi Highway 33, located north of U.S. Highway 84.

Board members said they could not place signs along the highway, as it is a state highway and is under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

• Chancery Clerk Jill Jordan Gilbert gave a reminder that deadline to apply for Mississippi Association of Supervisors scholarships is Tuesday, Feb. 1.

These educational scholarships are available to the children and grandchildren of current or retired county employees.

• Spread on the minutes a certificate of attendance for Gladys Wilcher who took part in a 2021 Justice Court Clerk’s training session.

• Accepted proofs of publication from and approved payment of claims to The Franklin Advocate for the placement of bid notices.

• Gave approval to pay $175 to Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance for a $50,000 bond on Deputy Sheriff Dustin Vanderslice.

• Approved a resignation notice from Deputy Justice Court Clerk Jennifer Wallace.

The next regularly scheduled business meeting of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors will be held at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18 as county offices will be closed due to the local, state and national observance of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 17.