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|Articles - November 2010|
|Thursday, October 21, 2010|
Page 4 of 4Finding a better deal
Amid all the talk these days about annual increases to companies’ insurance plans, Eugene-based Pacific Continental Bank enjoyed an almost unheard-of windfall last year: Monthly premiums dropped 2% to 3%.
The bank, which employs 274 mostly full-time people, realized those savings by shopping around for a better deal. Pacific is also partially self-insured, which makes it less susceptible to market trends and impacted more by employees’ use of health care.
“Our employees were just healthier and there were fewer big claims,” says Rachel Ulrich, executive vice president and human resources director.
The bank currently offers employees a basic plan and also the option to buy up into an expanded plan. Pacific covers 100% of the basic plan for full-time employees and covers about 70% of the cost for family members. Ulrich says the company, which saw revenues of $58.4 million in 2009, spends about $1.7 million on health care each year.
Pacific is not, however, anticipating further cost decreases similar to last year. For starters, Ulrich says annual claims run in cycles, so last year was probably just the low end of that pattern. Second, one of the provisions of the new health reform law allows young adults up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ health insurance plans.
“That’s probably going to be one of the biggest impacts for us,” says Ulrich, who herself has a 23-year-old son in the restaurant industry who could benefit from the coverage. “We may have to look at our family plans if use goes up as a result of that provision.”
She says Pacific might be able to absorb some future cost increases that come from federal reforms or continued upward trends; more than likely, however, the bank may have to look at charging higher co-pays or employee contributions toward premiums.
Though financial reform is tops on Pacific’s list at the moment, health care still ranks high among the bank’s primary business concerns. As for the new health care legislation and its impacts on Pacific Continental, the verdict is still out and probably will be for a while.
“It’s too early to say if it’s going to be good or bad,” Ulrich says. “I applaud the government for trying to find a way to fix health care. I’m just not sure this is it.”
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