Luzerne County controller audit detects health insurance billing errors

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
Bednar -

Luzerne County government charged some employees too much for health insurance coverage and others too little in 2017, resulting in a net shortchanging to the county of $2,751.37, a new county controller’s office audit shows.

The county is owed $6,769.75 from those undercharged, while the county owes $4,018.38 to those overcharged, according to the audit posted Monday on the controller’s page at www.luzernecounty.org.

The audit indicates 24 insurance recipients had errors: 11 who overpaid $10.90 to $23.01 per paycheck and 13 who paid $6.08 to $42.08 less than required per pay.

The total impact was tallied by projecting each error over 26 pays, the audit said.

Impacted insurance recipients will be alerted and receive refunds or the option to repay the county in installments, said county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik.

The audit recommended payment plans, saying the amounts owed by several is large and could “pose a detriment to the financial safety of these enrollees.” All 13 should have access to payment plans if they don’t want to settle the debt up front, with the understanding any amount owed would be withheld from their final pay if they leave county employment, the audit said.

A total 1,258 were enrolled in the county’s health insurance plan last year, which means the error rate was 1.9 percent, the audit said. The total includes unionized prison retirees and former employees covered under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), but it’s unclear if any of these participants were among the group with errors.

In its review, the controller’s office compared two listings of participants and their selected insurance types — one from the county and the other from the insurance provider — along with payroll deductions.

Participants have five coverage options: single, husband/wife, parent/child, parent/children and family.

An example of an error would be an employee who switched from family coverage to parent/child still being billed for more expensive family coverage, it said.

Most county employees pay 10 percent toward health care.

The audit recommends a yearly human resources review of all employee healthcare coverage, comparing enrollees and their payments to a corresponding list from the health insurance provider.

In addition, the office suggested a notice after open enrollment ends advising participants to review their deductions for potential errors.

Parsnik said the administration required in-person enrollment for 2018 to verify coverage selections and eligibility, with information presented to employees on the amounts they would be charged.

All employees were required to produce marriage licenses and birth certificates of dependents to verify they were eligible for county health insurance coverage. Approximately 300 spouses and dependents are enrolled in the county’s insurance plan, officials have said.

Controller Michelle Bednar did not issue a media release about the audit. She said she posts all audits online as they are completed and keeps them publicly posted beyond the 60 days required in the county’s home rule charter for transparency.

Bednar
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_bednar.jpgBednar

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.