Porter County Commissioner John Evans drew attention to Tuesday's implementation of the hotly debated Affordable Care Act before he and his two peers made changes of their own to the county health insurance plan in hopes of saving money.
The commissioners agreed to boost deductibles starting Jan. 1 from $500 to $1,000 for the traditional plan and from $1,250 to $2,000 for the high-deductible version.
These increases, in addition to a change from 90-10 to 80-20 in co-pays, are expected to net a savings of between 9 and 12 percent, Evans said.
The savings were sought by the County Council, which is in the midst of putting together next year's budget.
Evans again defended the commissioners' decision not to increase the premiums paid by employees, saying he did not favor the move as long as the workers are not getting pay raises. There are 1,400 employees and family members on the county health insurance plan.
The premiums go from $75 a month for a single person to $175 a month for a family on the traditional plan, and from $25 a month for an individual to $125 a month for a family on the high-deductible version. Employees can earn up to $250 back each year by participating in wellness programs, which amounts to nearly a complete refund in premiums for a single employee on the high-deductible plan.
County employees also are eligible to receive free care for acute illnesses and injuries at CareEXPRESS Urgent Care Center, which is owned by Porter Regional Hospital, said Mike Anton, who serves as the servicing agent for the county's health plan.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners gave preliminary approval to changes in the restaurant/grocery store inspection program in order to comply with state regulations and raise enough money to again make the program self-supporting at $185,000 a year.
The program's annual inspection fees, which now will be based on square footage rather than the number of employees, are proposed at $200 for site under 3,000 square feet, $350 for between 3,000 and 10,000 square feet, and $500 for anything over 10,000 square feet.
Full-service restaurants have been paying $220 and grocery stores serving prepared meals pay $440.
The proposed changes also would allow the inspectors more control to crack down on delinquent inspection bills, which amount to about 50 each year of the more than 750 affected businesses.