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Letter: Commissioners should present insurance plan publicly

Hubbard County Commissioners are in the process of deciding to switch to a self-insured (self-funded) group health plan for the county employees. This type of plan is one in which the employer (Hubbard County/taxpayers) assumes the financial risk for providing health care coverage.

The idea is to use PrimeWest Health an organization formed by a Joint Powers Agreement between 13 counties located throughout the state. Hubbard County agreed to switch for the 2017 plan year but not enough of the member counties chose to participate so the movement failed. It appears this idea is a very well-kept secret from the public who will be responsible for the financial risk.

While Hubbard County does have a representative on the PrimeWest Health Board it appears that there has never been an open presentation of the plan to full Board of Commissioners at a regular Board meeting It appears that the Benefit Committee established by the commissioners receives and reviews all the information and then decides what action to recommend to the full Board of Commissioners. What is interesting is that the County Coordinator Debbie Thompson has made it clear that the meetings of the Benefit Committee are not open to the public to attend. In other words, the public is not being allowed to be totally informed on this topic.

If the citizens/taxpayers are going to be the responsible party for the cost (including claims) of this program they are entitled to be completely informed. If the Commissioners truly believe in open county government transparency they should either have a complete presentation of the plan at a regular board meeting or, better yet, hold a public informational forum on the issue. Again, the public is entitled to be informed and have their questions answered. It is worthy to note that the 2014 annual audit of the county showed that $2,249,750.50 was paid to BCBSMN NW Coop. The 2015 annual audit showed that $2,075,552.00 was paid to the same. This was just in premiums, it does not include any claim costs as will be the case with the PrimeWest Health plan.

You need to contact your Hubbard County Commissioners and demand complete transparency. The Hubbard County web address is Click on County Board and the Commissioners phone numbers and email address can be found.