Logan County Judge Gus Young is looking for ideas and options on how to deal with a 24 percent increase in insurance premiums for county employees.

The hunt for ideas and options will begin Thursday when Young holds a 5:45 p.m. meeting at the Logan County Courthouse in Paris with three members of the Quorum Court, three county officeholders and his administrative assistant Nita Roper.

Young was recently notified by the county’s insurance provider, QualChoice, of the premium increase. The reason? Seven claims in the last year that topped $10,000 per claim. The seven claims range from a high of $75,222.27 to a low of $10,166.38.

Logan County pays 100 percent of an employee’s insurance premium with the employee picking up the cost of covering any dependents. This year, the monthly premium for each employee is $395.36. With a 24 percent hike, monthly premiums for each employee will jump to $490.25. There are 95 employees working for the county enrolled in the plan. The 24 percent increase means next year the county could pay $552,720 to provide insurance for employees.

"Right now, we’re trying to negotiate with our insurance carrier to see if we can get the amount of increase lowered," Young said last week. "But we’re also going to look at new ideas, options and opinions. Are there things we can do to lower the expense for the county?"

However, one idea isn’t on the table, according to Young.

"Everything is on the table but having employees contribute to their coverage is not being considered because the employees have absorbed rate increases in the past through paying a higher deductible. We’re also going to look at getting other quotes to see if we can get better rates."

Young said that since 2004, insurance premiums have gone up 15.8 percent or an average of 1.8 percent each year. In that time, Logan County has used three different companies. Although there was no rate increase from 2010-12, that was only possible because the county raised the deductible to $5,000, Young said.

Absorbing the 24 percent increase will present some problems.

"Any rate increase will stress our budget," Young said. "We're going to have to figure out how to absorb that."