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MOROCCO — A recent change in the county’s health insurance has resulted in a number of concerns and questions by Newton County employees.

The Newton County Commissioners voted Nov. 18 to move the county employee’s health insurance from Anthem to ELAP and keep Crum & Forster for re-insurance. The motion was approved 2-0 with Mickey Read and Kyle Conrad voting yes, while Tim Drenth was absent from the meeting.

Commissioner Conrad stated that he believes the savings would be significant and the county needs to try it.

Conrad told the Newton County Enterprise that there were no coverage changes and “the only difference is in how the claims are paid.”

“We are currently conducting several meetings in all county facilities to answer questions and address concerns to make sure all employees are aware of the process changes,” added Conrad.

The switch to ELAP and what employees call “no provider insurance” is a disheartening issue for numerous employees.

“ELAP negotiates every claim and we are worried about our claims going into collections, it has happened in other counties with this plan,” said a county public safety employee, who spoke to the Enterprise on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation. “Once an unpaid claim goes to collections it is going to affect your credit score. With this change, employees are going to be spending a lot of time submitting and resubmitting claims to ELAP. I have seen it in other counties. There are a lot of employees concerned, and we aren’t getting answers, we are getting a sales pitch. I have even heard comments about employees possibly leaving because of this. There are several employees who took a pay cut to work here just because of the better health insurance. I may be forced to leave if this insurance goes the way I think it will.”

“I’m happy to discuss this with any of our concerned employees,” said Conrad. “This matter was discussed at length at two public meetings of the board of commissioners, including handouts and questions and answers.”

The county claims the insurance change will mean significant cost savings, while the coverage won’t change, but some employees don’t think it will be that simple.

“I personally feel the county does what it can to keep (slighting) the people who are here taking care of its residents,” said another public safety employee, who spoke to the Enterprise on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation. “They say they will be saving money by doing this, but our taxes won’t go down, they are going to spend this money somewhere else. What are they going to do with this money, build another water tower for the dairy? The county has employees who depend on this health insurance and they can give no guarantees that they will be able to take care of these problems. Everyone is mad about this.”