Technical Assistance


Message from the Executive Director, David Cleveland


Partnership Helps ETCOG Members Contain Growing Cost of Employee Health Insurance & Transition to “Obamacare”


In 2009, at the request of many member governments, ETCOG entered into a strategic partnership with Brinson Benefits. The purpose of the partnership was to offer our member jurisdictions an effective, authoritative and reliable resource they could enlist to help keep employee health insurance costs low while simultaneously offering a competitive benefits package. What started out as a small demonstration project between ETCOG and Brinson continues to pick up steam throughout the region. Camp County, ETCOG, Smith County and Wood County are all served by Brinson today, and other jurisdictions are beginning to take notice and evaluate the opportunity for themselves. As health care costs continue to rise and the Affordable Care Act is poised to impose radical change in the span, scope and quality of healthcare for all Americans, having Brinson Benefits on board to help combat cost hikes and navigate the ever increasing regulatory requirements of Obamacare makes more sense than ever before! 

First, elected and appointed officials know that the cost of health insurance can devour organizational budgets.  I attended a meeting last week of Executive Directors of Texas Councils of Governments. During the meeting, an Executive Director advised that he had been served a hefty 19 percent renewal rate increase from their current health insurance provider. My colleague asked for input. I told him about all that Brinson had done to keep ETCOG’s and our member governments insurance costs low while consistently helping us to improve services to our employees. While most do not deal with the shock of a 19 percent or higher annual renewal cost, it has been our experience that premiums increase almost every year and it adds up! For ETCOG, over a five year period, our composite renewal percentage without Brinson’s assistance would have been a whopping 32 percent increase!  Unfortunately, in the insurance world what goes up often does not come down, without strategic action.  Because of our partnership with Brinson, ETCOG realized a 3.16 percent decrease in premiums over that same time period.

Brinson essentially serves as a professionally trained advocate that is NOT compensated from commission based sales to you. They monitor your health insurance situation every day, educating you about strategy and options and serve as your (and your employees) advocate. As an ETCOG member you will also receive many discounted and oftentimes free Brinson services that will help your budget even more!

Finally, concerning the complexity of and compliance with the Affordable Care Act, several media reports have highlighted the voluminous nature of the statute and subsequent rules and regulations. I leave the relevance of such “volume” discussions to others to debate. However, compliance with the law and related rules and regulations is important to address. 

Ready or not, Obamacare goes into full effect on January 1, 2014. Remember, the law applies to everyone--the individual;, who will be required to have some type of medical coverage, the small employer; who is subject to increased fees, taxes and mandates, and employers who have 50 or more full-time employees that will be required to provide health insurance that meets minimum requirements. I am most pleased that we can offer all ETCOG members privileged access to Brinson Benefits right now to prepare for all the changes, financial and otherwise, that the Affordable Care Act will bring in 2014. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this article or if you would like me to introduce you to a Brinson staff member.


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