Guilford County’s 2,300 or so employees are getting a health insurance plan for 2020 that might not be as nice as the one they’ve had in the past – but it’s still pretty attractive considering what’s been happening to plans in the private sector in recent years.

After an often lively discussion on Thursday, Nov. 7 in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House, the Board of Commissioners decided to approve “Option 1” – a plan that won’t offer county employees quite as much as previous plans but one that’s expected to save the county about $4.5 million dollars in the coming year.

Some commissioners wanted to delay the decision; however, the board had already delayed the matter at a work session last month and county Human Resources staff were starting to freak out a little since the open enrollment period for 2020 couldn’t start until the commissioners adopted a plan and it’s already getting close to the start of the year.

Commissioner Skip Alston said he thought the vote should take place at a televised regular meeting – like the one the board held right after the work session – so that county employees could hear the rationale for the changes. However, in the end, the board voted approval in the untelevised Blue Room work session with few spectators in the room.

While the current county insurance plan has an employee deductible of $200 for an individual and $600 for a family, the new deductibles will be $500 and $1,500 respectively. That move alone should save the county over $600,000.

Another $90,000 will be saved by raising county employees’ co-pay from $20 to $25. There are other changes as well throughout the plan. For instance, whereas the current insurance pays 95 percent of the cost of MRI’s and other complex diagnostics procedures after the deductible, the new insurance program will only pay 80 percent.