Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Expense report story draws plenty of emails

The expense report story that ran this weekend drew the most e-mails in my inbox since the story I wrote about Phil Stack, the guy who got in trouble with his HOA for having an American Flag on a pole in his front yard.

Most of the people said they were surprised at some of the information, but the most questions were about the medical expenses. Their questions are good ones that I could not get answers to in the time I had to write this article. Plus, the answers may have been too long and complicated, which would have taken away from what the story is really about: what is in the expense reports?

But let me be clear that the medical insurance is not in a supervisor’s expense report. In fact, although it is quite common for local governments to offer medical insurance to elected leaders, I didn’t know any supervisor was using it until Supervisor Benjamin Pitts brought it up during a county board meeting. He was defending his own expenses and said that he saves the county $10,000 because he doesn’t use county insurance. 

Mr. Pitts doesn’t need to use the county health insurance, but he didn’t talk about this at the meeting. He is a retired Fredericksburg police officer and he gets insurance with the city. So, although he does not get county taxpayer-funded insurance, he is still getting taxpayer funded insurance—it’s just from the city.

People are confused as to why Medicare is not the primary insurer for T.C. Waddy, Jerry Logan and Emmitt Marshall. Mr. Logan tried to explain his situation, and Mr. Logan is a straight shooter with me so I wrote what he said. Some people are still confused. One lady wrote me that "IF Mr. Logan is of age 65, then Medicare is automatically his primary insurer and Anthem is always the secondary.  He doesn’t have to do a thing.  I know this from personal experience.  It is not a ‘County’ issue to be solved."

Mr. Logan may want to comment here to explain in more detail what he says in the newspaper article. I think it would be helpful for some people. It  might clear up some misconceptions. 




  • caroldarby

    So, AGAIN, since Logan IS under Medicare then WHY should the County be paying $8595 for what I think they call a Supplemental B program? I have neighbors that have much cheaper medicare supplemental programs. Perhaps the supervisors could SHOP for a cheaper insurance program (especially if they are on Medicare) and they could be reimbursed for that lower amount.

  • lgross

    CD is correct although this is a bigger issue than
    just the county. I have the same insurance I did
    when I was working and when I became eligible
    for Medicare, my insurance INSISTED that
    Medicare be primary and that if I still wanted to
    keep their insurance as secondary, the premium
    would be the same – no reduction – but they’d
    “cover” whatever Medicare did not – within the
    provisions of the policy.

    But CD is also correct, in that the county COULD
    buy SUPPLEMENTAL insurance – a “gap” policy for
    ALL of it’s retirees including the BOS but I don’t
    know if the premiums would be that much

    but why is this info, especially with regard to the
    BOS, not disclosed voluntarily to taxpayers

    why did it take the BOS discussion and Dan
    asking for the info to make it available to

    Good Government – is willingly transparent –
    proactive about it – providing to taxpayers the
    information they should have – ESPECIALLY if the
    BOS is going to ask for their input at budget

    How can taxpayers provided INFORMED
    comments about the budget if they do not have
    enough detail to make those comments –

  • MAVRICKinc

    Bill, the dynamics of premium costing, when Medicare is deemed primary and takes the first hit in paying for your health care, your SECONDARY coverage, if there is a balance left on any health care billing not paid by Medicare, pays LESS for the same health care services provided to you.

    SO, why would you continue to pay the same premium for your seconday coverage, when they are contractually obligated to pay less under the terms of your secondary coverage that’s offset by Medicare.

    You do pay a premium for both, so why aren’t you getting an actuarial premium discount on your secondary policy?

    Or, have you determined the “group” your secondary coverage has you placed in, and if so, why would or should you be paying additional premium dollars to your secondary carrier who is paying out LESS loss dollars per health care incident.

    I’m sure there’s a good reason why you are paying more for less coverage with your back up coverage, but I for one would ask where or how one obtains balance in premium cost; Primary vs Secondary.

    I have ICD-9 material straight out of any billing department, from private to public health care facilities. It helps the patient to better understand that the jello being served doesn’t cost $750 per serving. This is where cost containment, utilization reviews and quality assurances come into play in better defining what your health care premium pay for, or not.

  • gramps

    Well, I am 14 years older than my wife and I retired in 1998. After my retirement, and pre Medicare eligibilty, I was added to my wifes Fed Gov hc. After Medicare eligibility, I had MC for a primary and wifes policy as secondary. My wife retired from the Fed in 2007 and she kept her fed policy with me as a strap hanger. I think her policy holder takes the factors you mention into account for our premiums.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Bill, your insurance accounting is not much different than those throughout the world, except you have yet to identify which group you are assigned under terms of your secondary coverage and whether your GROUP is assigned a discount in premium charges when weighed against the coverage of your primary carrier.

    Did you notice where Anthem BC/BS is raising their premiums because the younger half and healthy part of their book of of business is dropping out and leaving the old and older parts of the population to foot the bill and balance their financial books, even though they are paying less in losses, with Medicare picking up any and all of the health care cost from their primary position with BC/BS changing their underwriting standards to make up for lost customers and the premium dollars that once sustained BC/BS’s market share and profit margins.

    We are part of that older population and the insurance industry is looking to us to keep their heads above water. If you have any actuary friends around they’ll tell you the same but with much more clarity. Their job explores chaos, reduces it to finite numbers, and then put their findings in terms we can ALL understand…even the formulas, fractions and facts. They can even pull you up as a population within a single district, county and country.

    Since you can be found somewhere on a spreadsheet, and again on yet another spreadsheet, you are paying two premiums for a single health care incident where neither insurer knows what the other is doing by way of cost sharing your health care needs, other than working off each other to sustain their respective financial markets and cash flow.

    I like to think of it in terms of knowing the difference…not knowing will not hurt you, unless you pick up a shovel. What you may unearth will always be your business and no others, UNLESS of course, you put your back into the digging.

    Larry calls it critical thinking, which he confesses we need more of but are still coming up short. I liken his conclusions to responses we received a while back when American History by Zinn was under attack by prople who would prefer not to know and to stave off the knowledge brought to market by Zinn, they decided to use name calling as their first line of attack, and then came to the idea of book burning or have American History by Zinn removed from the bookshelves and piled up somewhere where they and their off spring no longer could or would be exposed to the harsh realities Zinn brought to the printed page.

    Not knowing is a good thing. It keeps the multitudes silent and focused on mediocrity. Can critical thinking or an original thought take us somewhere else. Not really, unless you’re will to stand up in a croud and shout out that you’ve had enough. The tomatoes and cabbage heads will soon follow and challenge you to continue standing, or else.