Chesterton Tribune



Council okays new health plan for town employees

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The Chesterton Town Council has approved a so-called High Deductible Health Plan--with accompanying Health Savings Account--for municipal employees.

According to consultant Steve Brady of the Heritage Advisory Group, if a comparable plan had been in place this year, it would have saved the town “substantially,” something in the order of $250,000.

Brady, however, in comments to the Chesterton Tribune before the meeting, noted that projected savings are just that--projected--and depend entirely on the claim history of a particular year. The town will see fewer savings in a healthy year, more in an unhealthy one.

Begin with deductibles: a single person’s will increase from $350 to $2,500, a family’s from $700 to $3,500.

The employee’s monthly premium will also increase from $25 for employee-only to $50, and from $25 for employee-plus-one to $100.

The town, however, will make a deposit of $1,500 into each employee’s Health Savings Account, $1000 in January and $500 in July, and employees will be able to make their own contributions to it, moneys from which can be put toward health costs.

In addition, participation in the town’s Healthy Rewards Program can earn an employee up to $550, which sum can be paid either through payroll or deposited into the Health Savings Account.

And, at the end of the plan year, employees can elect to sell back to the town up to three unused sick days at full value, which sum, again, can be paid either through payroll or deposited into the Health Savings Account.

Other changes:

* Medical out-of-pocket will go from $500 for a single and $1,000 for a family--in network--to $0.

* Physician visits, currently costing a $15 co-pay, will be covered at 100 percent after the deductible.

* Prescription medications, currently at $5 for generic and $10 for formulary, will also be covered at 100 percent after the deductible.

Brady told the Tribune that, among the advantages of this plan, is this one: that municipal employees will be incentivized to shop for health care. “We shop for everything in life but health care,” he said. “Because no one knows you can do that. Under this plan, there’s an incentive to shop, to find less expensive health care. It changes the way we look at health care.”

To assist employees not only with the details of the plan but to show them how to shop, as he put it, Brady will be hold “extensive education” sessions, “to explain and show them what the plan is.”

The council voted 4-0 to approve an expenditure of $2,000 in CEDIT funds to defray the cost of those education sessions.



Posted 11/26/2013




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