County health dept. switches insurance, cuts costs

LISBON – The Columbiana County Health Department shopped insurance for its employees and managed to minimalize the cost increase this year to 12 percent.

Health Commissioner Wes Vins pointed out he and Fiscal Officer Cis Donahey put in a lot of hours, but the change to a different carrier was worth it. The department had been scheduled to see a 39 percent increase in insurance costs. Vins said the 12 percent increase in premium was within the budget.

The new health insurance, which was approved by the board Wednesday, will be through Medical Mutual. Vins said the package is a better one, with deductibles of $3,000 for a family and $1,500 for an individual. However, once the deductibles are met the coverage is 100 percent.

Employees can also use an Health Reimbursement Account plan to help offset the cost of the insurance.

In other matters:

– Due to a shortage of tuberculosis testing drugs, the health department will be suspending its program to provide the test for those needing it for non-exposure related reasons, such as an employment requirement. The department does have enough doses available in case of a health outbreak. In that case the department would be able to test those possibly exposed to TB by an ill person.

Vins noted county nurse Barbara Knee was right on top of the shortage and ordered enough to handle health issues before the supply ran out.

– The health department will be hosting a Bike Helmet Safety Week on May 6-10. Bicycle helmets will be available to those utilizing the health department for immunizations and the BCMH program.

– A rabies clinic will be held at the Career and Technical Center from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Doses will cost $5. Pets must be 3 months or older. Dogs must be on a leash and cats in a cage.

– The department is participating in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27. Residents with unwanted capsules or tablets can bring them to the health department on state Route 45 in Lisbon. Additional drop-off locations are being held at the Columbiana Sparkle Market, the East Liverpool City Hospital main entrance and the Salem Medical Center, across from the Salem Community Hospital.

Vins said the program is a chance to work with other health departments, the drug task force and others to help prevent small children from tragic accidents.