BATH TOWNSHIP — The Bath Township Board of Trustees is continuing their search for an affordable health insurance plan for township employees and their families.
Township Trustee Steven Ross said during the July 19 township meeting that he had recently communicated with Frank Harmon, owner of the Ohio Insurance Services Agency who exclusively markets the Ohio Public Entity Consortium Healthcare Cooperative (OPEC-HC). Bath Township is currently a member of OPEC-HC, which is a cooperative pool that provides health insurance for its members.
According to Harmon, OPEC-HC members who will be renewing their current health insurance contracts when they expire at the end of this year, will be charged a 7 percent increase in annual premiums.
“This is significantly less than the 25 percent rate increase that was initially presented to us,” Ross said.
OPEC-HC is also in the process of changing the composition of its board and adding more members to it, as well as changing the terms of the contractual agreement for members.
“The contract agreement was initially for three years; but now, it will be for one year,” Ross said. “The township trustees will examine the specific renewal packet when it is release the week of July 24.”
The township trustees are additionally actively seeking quotes from other insurance providers in the state. Ross said he contacted the King Agency in Toledo and talked with a representative of the agency. The agency represents both the Jefferson Health Plan and the Anthem Insurance Plan. Ross explained that the Anthem group health insurance coverage is offered through the Chamber of Commerce Alliance.
“The township is not a member of the chamber, but I don’t believe there is a statute that would present a problem for us if we wanted to join,” Ross said. “However, it came to my attention today that the King Agency really doesn’t know how to deal with our Medicare employees.”
Bath Township Trustee Tom Pitstick asked Ross if any township employees or members of their families had experienced any problems when using the new OPEC-HC health insurance cards. The new cards were issued after OPEC directors abruptly terminated the consortiums’ relationship with the plan administrator, the Jefferson Health Plan, effective July 1, and entered into a partnership with Benovation in Cincinnati, which now serves as the new administrator.
Ross told Pitstick that Bath Township employees had used the new insurance cards without any issues, but employees from other entities had experienced some problems.
“We brought in all of our employees, passed out the new insurance cards and information, and discussed the new plan,” Ross explained. “Thus far, the OPEC plan is working, and a 7 percent renewal rate seems pretty good. However, we will continue to make comparisons between agencies.”
In early June, Bath Township Fiscal Officer Elaine Brown completed an employee census for the Burnham and Flower Insurance Group so the independent insurance agency could begin shopping the insurance marketplace for the township.
“What really concerns me is the fact that we do have a handful of people who are 65 and on Medicare. The King Agency doesn’t know how to deal with that, and Frank Harmon does.” Ross said. “That is something we have to consider.”
Township trustees were informed in May about the fiscal mismanagement that had occurred within OPEC-HC which brought about an estimated deficit of $14 million. In June, the Bath Township Trustees sent a letter of intent to withdraw from OPEC-HC when the township’s contract expires at the end of this year. However, Ross previously pointed out that the township could be charged as much as $52,000 under the withdrawal condition because all pool members are expected to pay a share of the deficit to Jefferson Health Plan. Yet, OPEC directors believe the deficit will be reduced by entering into a partnership with a new administrator.
Ross said the township trustees would decide on a health insurance plan within the next few weeks because the township has until Friday, Sept. 1 to rescind its withdrawal notice with OPEC-HC.
In other business, the township trustees approved the appointment of Patrick Partee to the position of grounds foreman at the Byron Cemetery and the purchase of floral panels for the existing columbarium and the recently purchased columbarium that will soon be erected at the cemetery. The panels, which will be used for identification purposes, will be similar to the panels on the two mausoleums and will cost $1,895 for each panel.
The township trustees also approved $10,000 for fog seal asphalt emulsion that will extend the life of 14 township roads that were recently treated with a chip seal surface treatment and one road that will be treated with a chip seal surface treatment in the fall.
The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet again in regular session beginning 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2. Township meetings are held at the Bath Township Building, 1006 Yellow Springs–Fairfield Road. The public is welcomed.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.