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Nassau to save $7 million on employee health insurance adjustment

Nassau County will save more than $7 million this year by reducing a number of family health care policies for employees and retirees to individual ones, according to County Comptroller George Maragos.

The savings stem from the New York State Health Insurance Program's notification to the comptroller that some dependents of Nassau's insured members might no longer be eligible for the coverage.

Maragos followed up and determined that 1,090 dependents were ineligible. "Every effort was made to confirm the eligibility of the questioned dependents before their coverage was dropped," Maragos said.

He said the savings were achieved with a retroactive adjustment credit of $4.4 million from NYSHIP going back to February 2009, and a $320,000 projected monthly reduction of premiums equaling $2.9 million for the rest of the year.

Nassau pays about $240 million a year in such premiums.

Currently, active employees and those retired and non-Medicare eligible pay $1,330.93 a month for a family policy and $612.34 for an individual.

Those retired, with one person eligible for Medicare, pay $1,085.94 for a family policy; with two eligible, $840.98. Individuals pay $367.37 a month.

Maragos said that most of the removed dependents were because of divorce. Others included children 19 and older but not in school, and people who simply did not reply with proof of their eligibility.

"The county and NYSHIP will continue to review the eligibility of all dependents and further adjustments will be made as appropriate," he said.

Maragos added that the county "will establish its own database of employee benefits and independently verify dependent status to better control costs."

David Ernst, a spokesman for NYSHIP, said it would be up to local officials to turn over any case they consider deliberate fraud to their local prosecutor.

Maragos said: "Our focus is to make sure that we're only paying for those eligible, but as a matter of practice, we share our findings with the DA."

Suffolk County is self-insured and does not participate in the New York State Health Insurance Program.

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