05/09/14 — City changes insurance requirements for workers

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City changes insurance requirements for workers

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on May 9, 2014 1:46 PM

Beginning in July, city employees and their families on the city's insurance will notice a few changes to their health plans.

The Goldsboro City Council approved a measure Monday night accepting the city manager's recommendation that the city move to a fully insured health plan under Cigna.

Under the new plan, employees will see their insurance deductibles double from $1,300 for a single covered employee to $2,600.

Also on the bill for July is a change to charge employees $50 a month to pay for their own insurance, a fee that will be offset with a $50 raise.

"This is just to get them into the habit of paying for their own insurance so they see it's there," City Manager Scott Stevens said. "And some who have the insurance but are covered by a spouse and don't use it may pull themselves off and take the $50 raise."

The move to a fully-insured plan was precipitated by high claims on the city's self-funded insurance plan over the last three years costing the city much more than was budgeted for the year.

In the current year, the city expects to go about $700,000 over its $4 million budget.

Under a fully-insured plan the city's cost would be level without the possibility of high claims blowing the budget during the fiscal year.

The new plan will cost about $3.6 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Other changes to the plan include charges for behavioral changes the city hopes to use to encourage better health in the city.

Each month, the city would require its employees have health assessments to track their health and determine what health concerns are widespread.

The charge for not getting the assessment would be $12.50 a month beginning in October.

Also required under the new plan, starting Oct. 1, would be for identified diabetics in the city to participate in the city's free diabetes program.

The program provides diabetics with training and testing supplies.

Participants in the city health insurance plan would also be charged if they did not have a primary physician or if they use tobacco.

The city benefits committee recommended charging $25 a month for the first two health markers but waiting on charging for not having a primary physician or for charging tobacco users, but the city manager recommended moving forward with all four at once.

City Councilman Chuck Allen suggested that all of the charges be set at $25 each.

"I'm not gonna notice $12.50 in my paycheck but I am for sure gonna notice if $25 goes missing," he said.

Councilman William Goodman said that for many people that difference is the difference between paying a bill or not.

Allen originally wanted to wait to spend more time with the proposed health plan ahead of a vote but Goldsboro Finance Director Kaye Scott said Cigna needed an answer to begin paperwork in time for the city budget.

Allen said that if the city would be saving as much as was shown he could not argue with approving the change that night.

Under the new plan oral surgery, acupuncture and varicose vein treatments would no longer be covered.