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City eyes health plan cost savings

January 23, 2002

City eyes health plan cost savings



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday supported changes intended to save the city money on health insurance coverage for some employees and retirees.

But City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said they don't know how much money any changes could save.

The city's health plans are being looked at because of rising costs. City Finance Director Al Martin said health insurance costs were about $2.9 million last year, and are expected to be about $4 million this year.

Under the current health plan, employees and retirees under 65 pay no premiums or deductibles. The only charge employees and those retirees pay for their insurance is a $5 co-payment each time they see a doctor.

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On Tuesday, City Human Resources Director Donna Messina said the unions representing city firefighters and Light Department employees, and nonunion employees, support adopting a two-tiered health plan. This would give employees the option of being covered by a less expensive health plan, or paying extra to stay under the current health insurance.

The details of the less expensive plan were not discussed Tuesday.

Messina said the union representing city police officers and the union representing city workers including those in the water, sewer and public works departments, rejected the two-tiered health care plan that would require employees to pay extra to keep the current health insurance.

Zimmerman said those two union groups will be asked to vote on whether they would accept a two-tiered health plan that would not require additional payments to stay with the current health insurance. This option would save the city less money.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the more money the city can save on health insurance the more money there will be left over for pay raises.

Faced with rising health insurance costs last year, the council eliminated cost of living raises for city employees.

Messina said retirees over 65 would not be affected by any changes to the city's health insurance plans.

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