Richland County commissioners Tony Vero (left) and Darrell Banks meet Tuesday morning with Wendy Dillingham of the County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio.

MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners heard Tuesday the county paid out medical claims for employees at a higher rate than it took in for premiums in the first quarter of 2019.

During the first three months of the year, Richland County paid out $2.7 million in employee health care benefits while collecting $1.6 million in premiums, according to quarterly-review information provided by Wendy Dillingham of the County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio.

Conversely, the county collected more in prescription drug premiums than it paid out during the quarter -- taking in $479,907 and paying out $467,174.

Richland County is one of 35 counties in CEBCO in 2019. The consortium began as a group of six counties in 2004 as Ohio counties struggled with unpredictable rate increases in health insurance. Anthem is the county's insurance carrier.

Richland County joined the consortium a couple of years ago, which has stabilized the county's insurance costs at around $3.6 million annually.

"We are self-insured," Commissioner Tony Vero has said previously. "We are just in a larger pool.

"If you include the jail, which is a general fund expense, we will have over $4 million in health-care costs alone in 2018 on a $33 million budget," Vero said.

That total amounts to about 12 percent of the total county budget. County employees actually saw a 0.4 percent decrease in health insurance premiums for 2019. Rates for 2020 will be determined later this year.

The county has averaged 1,137 people in its medical plan over the last 12 months, including employees, spouses and children.

In other action on Tuesday, commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding with Therapy Dogs International that will allow a therapy dog to visit Dayspring and work with residents.

Commissioners also approved a new billing employee in the county's wastewater department at a rate of $15 per hour.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"

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