by Ali Fuhrman
Our Vice President Anders Thorstenson and I attend monthly meetings with HR and Labor Relations to review our healthcare plan. For those who don’t know, Hennepin County is “self-insured.” That means we hire a third-party insurance company to process our claims, but we pay for the claims out of our own funds. Each month labor and management look at how much the plan is taking in and how much it is paying out.
For many years we had Preferred One. Preferred One was recently bought out by UMR. Hennepin County signed a 3-year contract with UMR for 2023-2025.
UMR promised the county it was able to create the tiered “advantage plan” network we had with Preferred One. UMR lied. They could not create a tiered plan and everyone ended up with the same plan and a “broad” network of providers.
UMR has been extremely difficult to work with. From prescription drug denials, billing issues, and denial of routine labs and procedures, they have created real barriers to using our healthcare.
They have also cost the plan $7 million. From January through April the plan is running 16% over what we take in.
From 2018 to 2020 we paid around $34.4 million more than we needed to cover healthcare expenses. In three years, from 2019 to 2021, the county basically stole this money and a little more ($35.1 million) by not contributing premiums to the plan. They used this money to cover other county expenses.
In the past the county has increased our costs to healthcare (like co-pays, deductibles, etc.) and used it as a source of revenue.
In 2019 we had a reserve fund of $59 million. Today that number is 10.6 million.
On June 22, we met with county HR and Labor Relations to look at health insurance for 2024. They want to increase our insurance costs by 31.5%!
We will be hosting a townhall about healthcare at our Wednesday, July 5, membership meeting over Zoom and in person at 6:30pm. Then we will be doing a 30-minute lunchtime townhall over Teams on Tuesday, July 25, 11:30- 12:00, and 12:30-1:00 and Wednesday, July 26, 12:00-12:30, and 1:00-1:30.
We should not have to pay more for worse healthcare coverage!