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— By RHETT GENTRY

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The Columbia County Quorum Court voted 9-1 on Monday to remain with Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, county employees’ current health insurance provider.

Justice of the Peace Steve Lee was the only “no” vote, while JP Terry Williams was not present.

The other health insurance plan available for the county was from United Health Care (UHC), which differed from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan in several ways, including UHC offering lower office visit costs and lower out-of-pocket maximums; however, monthly premiums would have been nearly $13 higher.

Other complaints JPs had against UHC included provisions that would automatically enroll every county employee to have their prescriptions through CVS pharmacy, with the closest CVS to Columbia County in Texarkana, Ark., and that UHC is not widely accepted in the area.

JPs offered the floor for the county employees present to express their sentiments towards the two choices. Employees in attendance said that Blue Cross and Blue Shield was their preferred option, with one employee stating that they loved Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance will add $40.23 to each county employee’s premium, which was a concern among the JPs.

JP Penny Cook reminded the court that the county employees were not receiving raises and suggested that the county should pay for these premiums, which was called to motion and passed.

The new rates are $35 for a physician visit, $70 to see a specialist and $70 for Urgent Care Facilities, with a $2,000 deudctible for single applicants and $4,000 for families.

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