County leaders from across Nebraska are in Omaha this week, attending the 119th annual conference of the Nebraska Association of County Officials. Larry Dix, the group’s executive director, says they’re hearing a lot about changes in health care coverage affecting counties.
Dix says, “How is health care going to change what counties provide to their employees and their elected officials, that’s a big topic we’re working on, trying to work our way through the maze of what options do small counties have and how are they different from large counties as far as the Affordable Care Act.”
Dix says the association offers group health insurance coverage to counties, but their rules are changing, too, which prompts a sports analogy.
“All these years in our health care program, we sort of developed this football team and now come January 1, the only problem is, we’re going to be playing soccer with football players because all of the rules have changed,” he says, laughing.
Dix says besides increased costs, counties have to deal with more complicated regulations.
“It’s just such a different concept because everything now becomes age-rated as opposed to putting everybody in a bucket and averaging their ages together,” he says. “Now, that goes out the window for the small groups and they’re all age-rated so whatever your age is, is what you pay.”
Dix says members are also talking about property taxes, road issues and crowded jails. The conference will conclude later today.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton