Council looks at insurance premiums

Warren City Council discussed employee health care costs at its meeting Monday night, but ultimately took no action.

Like most employers, the city shoulders part of the cost of health insurance premiums for employees, but rising premium costs are forcing a re-examination of how much of that burden will ultimately end up being paid by the employee.

The portion of premiums paid by employees has stood at $40 per pay period, on average $80 per month or $1,040 per year, since 2011.

The current figure applies across the board regardless of which of the four available plans for varying numbers of covered dependents an employee utilizes. The result is a system in which employees receiving insurance for only themselves are paying the same amount as employees receiving insurance for their entire family.

One motion put forth on the issue by Councilman John Lewis, and then re-worded for clarification by Councilman Sam Harvey, would be to rescind the portion of the 2011 setting the employee portion of premium payment at a $40 per paycheck rate and replacing it with a payment of 40 percent of premium increases based on a base year of 2014.

Such an action would result in an increase in cost for employees with family coverage, but a decrease for those with single coverage. Resulting payments would range from $57.43 to $177.68 per month.

Councilman Howard Ferguson suggested amending the motion to maintain payments of $40 per paycheck for those employees who would see a reduction in payments under the change, citing the incongruity of some employees seeing a reduction in costs while others see an increase.

Councilman Maurice Cashman suggested re-opening the budget in January to examine the issue after the city had final figures for 2014 premiums.

Motions to change the payment amounts were rescinded as council agreed to follow Cashman’s suggestion.