- Insurance choices limited after carriers choose not to offer health insurance to city
Members of the Common Council of the City of Brazil approved a new health insurance policy for city employees at its meeting Tuesday.
The council voted to approve a one-year contract with Humana Healthcare, a move that will double the deductible specified under the city's 2005 agreement with its current health insurance provider, Anthem Health. The Humana plan carries a $1,000 deductible, an amount that worried some council members.
"Will most employees be able to sit down and write a check like that?" asked Councilman James Sheese. "I think what we're going to find is a lot of people are not going to go to the doctor or the hospital."
Councilman Marty Beasley, who voted against approving the Humana plan, also voiced concern that the policy may not be affordable for some city employees.
"A lot of us, we live paycheck to paycheck," he said.
Other officials argued that the plan is the best available solution. Mayor Tom Arthur said the Humana plan's superior prescription plan would mitigate a higher deductible, and research by Brazil Human Resources and Safety Director Debbie Hobson indicated city employees paying for family coverage would be charged less per pay for Humana coverage.
But despite the reservations of some council members, the city may not have had a better option. According to Larry White, an insurance professional who has acted as the city's broker as it has shopped for a new health plan, said several prominent group insurance providers have refused to cover the city.
White said United Healthcare, Aetna and even the city's current provider, Anthem, have declined to work with the city on a 2006 plan, citing excessive loss ratios.
Sheese, who moved for the approval of the Humana plan, said the lack of a viable alternative plan left the city's hands tied.
"I don't think we've got much choice if it's this program or nothing," he said.
The Humana plan would allow individual employees to upgrade their policies to a plan carrying a $500 deductible for around $20 per pay, but an employee whose dependents are covered through the city would be charged $114.58 out of each paycheck.
Hobson noted that while deductibles would increase, basic services such as routine immunizations, blood work and pap smears would remain available for no out-of-pocket expense.