Insurance rates drop for city employeesPublished 6:47pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The City of Washington announced Monday it received a six-percent reduction on its renewal for city employees’ health insurance benefits.
During Monday’s city council meeting, the board explained that Washington is trying to meet industry standards. One of the things city officials feel has helped save employees money on their insurance is its wellness program.
“The six-percent reduction in renewals was tremendous for us,” said Brian Alligood, Washington’s city manager. “We are very fortunate and we feel our wellness programs drive that.
“We have substantial wellness programs and it is a long-term process to change behaviors and to help people so they don’t have to use the (insurance) system,” Alligood said.
The drop in health insurance rates could also draw more interest from people to come work for the city, according Alligood.
“Our abilities to put the wellness programs in place and lower costs will help us in our recruitment of people,” Alligood said. “It helps the bottom line for our budget and helps our employees to be healthier, which is what we want.”
The new insurance plan takes effect July 1. New employees’ insurance begins 30 days after starting employment on the first of the month, or if an individual is hired on July 17, benefits lock in Sept. 1.
Now, when the city takes out insurance payments for voluntary benefits it will only be done for twenty-four weeks instead of the normal twenty-six. Employees will see an increase in their paychecks some weeks.
“Twice a year there is a third pay period in the month, and for those two paychecks, we will not deduct for insurance,” Alligood said.
The six-percent reduction in rates also allows city employees to keep their insurance until the last paycheck after termination. Currently, an employee’s last day on the job is their final day of health benefits.
Along the health care lines, Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson had previously asked the city to look into whether employees would be interested in a cemetery plot plan in Oakdale Cemetery. Monday, City Council voted to implement the plan.
A city employee can now purchase a cemetery plot with a bi-weekly payroll deduction. The purchase price would include a plot and perpetual-care costs, and the city would divide that by 24 pay periods. At the end of the year, the city gives the employee a deed to the plot.
If the city employee is no longer employed, they can ask for their money back or keep the plot. However, if they are still in the middle of paying for the plot and no longer working for the city, the employee has the option of paying the remaining balance or can receive their money back, according to Alligood.