| By Jason C. Mattox
City leaders moved one step closer to selecting health benefits for employees in the coming year after more than three hours meeting with two insurance representatives- selling the same plan from the same company.
Representatives from Clark Insurance appeared before the board first presenting them with a plan from Humana identical to the city’s existing policy from Aetna.
Once the city heard the presentation from Humana representative George Urban, board members and city employees seemed to have the same question – what could be done to lower the cost of family coverage.
"After talking to several of the city employees, it seems like they would not mind a higher deductible if they can get their monthly cost down from where it is," Mayor Jerry Autrey said.
Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said the number he has consistently heard from employees is between $250-$300 monthly.
"The best insurance in the world isn’t any good if your people can’t afford it," he said.
Urban agreed to bring the city back a dual option on insurance within the week. The first option will be the plan that mirrors the existing plan and the second option will have a higher deductible.
With that presentation concluded, discussion of Humana continued, this time from the city’s present insurance carrier Whitten Insurance.
Alan Tanguay, who has brokered insurance for the city since 1999, was met with similar concerns about family coverage.
"We want to do whatever we can to get the family coverage where our people can afford it," Dugger said. "We have some people that just can’t afford the $550 per month that the low-deductible plan would cost."
Tanguay said when he first started working with the city, they had no interest in family coverage.
"The out of pocket then was around the $350 range, and we didn’t have anyone interested in it," he said.
"That’s because it was too high then and it’s still too high now," Autrey said.
The board asked Whitten’s representatives to prepare them a dual option plan like the one being prepared by Clark Insurance.
No decision was made. Insurance will be discussed again at a future meeting. The city must select a carrier before May 1.