St. Helena jurors consider switching employee insurance providers

The St. Helena Parish Police Jury delayed a decision Tuesday on the renewal of employee health insurance to consider whether remaining with the current provider is worth a rate hike of 22.5 percent.

The parish’s contract with Blue Cross is not a profitable one for the insurance company, agent Denny Ebersole said. Blue Cross paid out $2.19 in claims for every $1 in premiums paid during the past 12 months, he told the Police Jury in March.

Humana has given a competitive quote that would cost the parish $80,000 per year less than sticking with Blue Cross, Ebersole said Tuesday.

The parish’s current contract with Blue Cross expires May 1.

If the Police Jury wants to switch providers, now is the time, Ebersole suggested Tuesday. But the jurors were at odds over whether the switch would be in their employees’ best interest.

Juror Jule Charles Wascom said the jury’s financial adviser, accountant Terry Sibley, warned that paying the extra $80,000 would put the parish in a bind.

Juror Thomas Wicker said the Police Jury needs to make strategic budget cuts in order to keep the current health insurance plan.

Juror Warren McCray suggested putting off action on the matter to give jurors more time to discuss the options and reach a consensus.

Humana probably would extend its rate quote until June 1, Ebersole said, but any extension beyond that would be unlikely.

The jurors voted 5-0 to table the issue until their April 23 meeting.