Carroll County is expected to see its health-insurance costs for its 119 employees jump by 29 percent for the next fiscal year starting July 1.

"It's basically claims driven," said County Auditor Joan Schettler.

The county's health-insurance bill is estimated at $1,231,385 for next fiscal year - up $280,000 from the current budget, Schettler said.

"Up until this point, we've had very small increases," Schettler said.

The county's health insurance is partially self-funded with claims over $50,000 being handled through Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Recent rate increases have ranged in the 2 to 4 percent area, Schettler said.

"Up until this point we've had very small increases," she said.

The large jump stems from more claims over $50,000, Schettler said.

As it stands, the county pays 85 percent of premiums with employees paying 15 percent.

The supervisors are considering a variety of options including higher deductibles for employees.

Another measure could be entering into an Iowa State Association of Counties pool, although Schettler thinks that actually could cost more.

At a board meeting Monday, Supervisor Dan Nieland raised the prospect of the county having to drop health insurance at some point because of the high costs.

"I don't know that there are any counties that don't offer health insurance," Schettler said.

The health-insurance issue factored heavily into the board's decision on salary increases. Supervisors' pay will increase 1.7 percent and other county officeholders salaries go up 2.55 percent on July 1.

The increase to health insurance cuts both ways: employees will contribute more, meaning it is a hit to their compensation-and-benefits package, but the county will contribute substantially more for employees, making it something of an added benefit.

The county offers two plans: $750 deductible for a single person and $1,500 for a full family or a $1,500/$3,000 split.

The county also must negotiate with the Teamsters Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Iowa Firefighters and Paramedics Union - all of whom aggressively advocate favorable health-insurance packages for employees and often lock in multi-year arrangements.

The board is expected to discuss the matter at a regular meeting on Monday.