According to Mayor Tom Arthur, a new health insurance policy for city employees could free up money for other expenditures.
As the city continues to struggle with budget constraints, Arthur is looking into a new health insurance plan that could save the city nearly $70,000. Brazil insures its employees through Anthem Health on a policy carrying a $500 deductible. Arthur has expressed interest in a plan offered by Humana Healthcare with a deductible of $1,000.
The cheaper plan could increase costs to the 70 employees with city-subsidized health insurance, but Arthur believes the Humana policy would save money in other ways for those covered. He said the savings would be directed toward balancing the city's budget.
"I would rather take that $70,000 and invest it in our community rather than give it to some big insurance company," he said.
He said the saving could be used to do one or more of the following: codify ordinances, fulfill a 2006 contract with the Clay County Humane Society or rehabilitate Brazil's water tower.
Arthur indicated some city council members, who would have to approve a new insurance policy, have balked at the idea of doubling the current deductible. But the mayor said the Humana plan's prescription drug coverage has some clear advantages over the Anthem policy which might add up to overall savings for insured city employees.
Under the current plan, city employees pay a flat fee for prescription drugs included in Anthem's list of accepted medications. Anything off the list costs the policyholder 40 percent of the price of the prescription.
"I've had some employees tell me they're paying $500 a month for their prescriptions, and I just don't know how they can afford it," Arthur said.
Humana's prescription drug coverage divides medications into four tiers. Drugs included in the first three tiers, which Arthur said accounted for 90 percent of the drugs used by city employees, cost the policyholder a flat fee. Employees would pay 25 percent of the cost of drugs in the fourth tier. Those drugs are "mainly injectables," Arthur said, and are rarely needed by those covered under the city's insurance policy.
When the city's one-year contract with Anthem Health expires, Arthur said he would like to pursue a multi-year deal with the city's next health care provider.
"I don't want to go through this every year," he said. "I'd like to find something that's long-term."