Aragon picks new com­pany to cover health in­sur­ance

The change avoids a $600 price hike, even bring­ing a $71 cut in pre­mi­ums.

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams SJ Correspond­ent

Aragon coun­cil mem­bers are ex­pected to re­new their health in­sur­ance in Novem­ber, but with county wide price in­creases, the group said farewell to their Hu­mana plan in ex­change for a OneDig­i­tal plan.

The change re­sulted in a $71 de­crease in pre­mi­ums, while avoid­ing a $600 pre­mium in­crease from Hu­mana.

The em­ploy­ees haven’t made the switch yet, and the cur­rent Hu­mana plan cov­ers city em­ploy­ees for a to­tal monthly pre­mium of $3,364.89.

Each em­ployee still pays their pre­mi­ums out of their pay­checks, but the cost to their own bot­tom line is lower. Em­ploy­ees pay a to­tal of $ 776.36 in pre­mi­ums, and the city cov­ers the re­main­ing $2,588.48 that makes up the $ 3,364.89 fig­ure.

Switch­ing to OneDig­i­tal’s Sil­ver Plan was the coun­cil’s way of sav­ing per­sonal and city money.

The new plan has an em­ployee por­tion of $ 758.18 and a city por­tion of $2,534.98 that adds up to a $3,293.12 monthly pre­mium.

“The sil­ver plan is al­most ex­actly the same as our cur­rent one. The only dif­fer­ence is OneDig­i­tal has higher co-pays,” Mayor Garry Bald­win said.

The fig­ure isn’t as black and white as usual, how­ever. The em­ploy­ees de­cided the city would pay 100 per­cent- or $ 39,517 in an­nual health in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums- so coun­cil mem­bers could put money to­wards in­sur­ance cov­er­age for their fam­i­lies as well.

“We’d have to al­most dou­ble that part of the bud­get, but I think we could do it,” Bald­win said.

The group isn’t go­ing to spend money Aragon doesn’t have, and the mayor’s plan t o save money in the long term is to cut back on nonessen­tials.

“We might have t o stream­line some of the other things,” Bald­win men­tioned. “Cut down on the wish list some.”

The need for new in­sur­ance choices and thus the OneDig­i­tal op­tion that was taken when the city’s for­mer health care plan provider threat­ened to in­crease by nearly $600 when they re­newed on Nov. 17.

“We have $2,000 in the bud­get,” Mayor Garry Bald­win ex­plained. “We’re al­ready pay­ing $2,500 per month in health in­sur­ance. We’ll have to come up with some ex­tra money if we don’t go to the sil­ver plan,” Bald­win said.

The Hu­mana re­newal would bring the to­tal pre­mium cost to $ 3,916.36. Em­ploy­ees would pay $ 907.72; the city would pay $3,008.70 monthly.

Also men­tioned by the mayor was the in­sta­bil­ity of any pro­posed num­bers.

“The fig­ure will change when we gain or lose em­ploy­ees. When I go to hire em­ploy­ees, I can’t ask if they plan to use our in­sur­ance,” Bald­win said.

Health care in­creases are a prob­lem all over Polk County, with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties com­ing up with ways to save money by go­ing to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble with the help of com­pa­nies like ShawHank­ins, or by tak­ing other av­enues that would sig­nif­i­cantly de­crease monthly pre­mi­ums.

For in­stance, the City of Cedar­town de­cided to en­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with Pri­mary Health­care to pro­vide clinic ac­cess for gen­eral med­i­cal needs for em­ploy­ees at no cost. Cedar­town city man­ager Bill Fann pre­vi­ously said it was a way to re­duce the num­ber of health in­sur­ance claims made by em­ploy­ees an­nu­ally for items like an­nual check­ups or the need to see a doc­tor for ail­ments that don’t re­quire a visit to the hospi­tal, like a stom­ach virus or the flu.

Sean Wil­liams / Stan­dard Jour­nal

The Aragon City Coun­cil gets down to busi­ness on Sept. 21 for their reg­u­lar meet­ing, ap­prov­ing a num­ber of items in­clud­ing their new health in­sur­ance provider.

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