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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

City switching to better, more affordable health insurance

Monday, July 21, 2008

Health insurance is a complicated system, but for the City of Brazil it has just become easier and cheaper.

Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw and City Insurance Administrator Judy Branham announced recently that the city is switching its health insurance coverage to Anthem Lumenos HRA.

"The new insurance will begin on Aug. 1, and is of a huge benefit to the city," Branham said. "It will save not only the city money, but also the employees on their premiums and deductibles."

Branham added under the current insurance plan, the deductible for an individual is $2,500 and $5,000 for a family, but with Anthem, it will be down to $1,500/$3,000 for individuals and families, respectively.

The city has had Anthem as its insurance carrier in the past and Branham is appreciative of Bradshaw's willingness to be open to change.

"Her open and honest policy has been a big benefactor in this decision," she said. "Mayor Bradshaw has been a rock where the City has been weakened by previous administration's decisions in the health insurance area."

The city had changed its insurance carrier each of the past few years and had been with its current carrier since January 2007.

A big instigator for the change came in December when the premiums increased by 44 percent due to the insurance's loss ratio and the amount of large claims reported.

"On average, insurance premiums for a municipality go up 10-20 percent each year," Branham said. "With Anthem, our bill renewal will come on Aug. 1 each year, instead of in December, which allows us to more accurately set our budget expectations, rather than anticipate them."

An added benefit of the new insurance plan is the switch from a Health Savings Account (HSA) to a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA).

"With an HSA, if an employee loses their position, they would get to keep the money the city places in their account," Branham said. "However, with the HSA, the city will be able to recoup the money."

Some of the other benefits of the Anthem Lumenous HRA health insurance plan includes:

* A substantial lower cost to the city,

* A 360-Degree Health and Rewards program which allows employees to earn extra money off their deductible and into their HRA accounts by participating, on a voluntary basis, in various health programs,

* A 24-hour nurse line,

* Access to a health coach, on a voluntary basis, if an employee has cancer or any other serious health coach, and

* Annual preventative wellness checkups that will be paid at 100 percent, with no maximum amount.

The new insurance plan will also consolidate the amount of insurance cards an employee has to carry as well.

"An employee will now be able to use one card for his or her health insurance, HAS and prescriptions instead of having them on separate cards," Branham said. "Overall, there are a lot of little things under the new plan that simplify the entire process."

With the sudden change in insurance plans in the middle of the year, Anthem is working to suit the better needs of the employees.

"Anthem is allowing city employees to maintain the amount they have paid into their deductible this year and they will start over each January," Branham said. "So if an employee has already paid the $1,500 deductible, they will not have to worry about a new deductible until next year."

The city organized an 11-member Insurance Committee, consisting of representatives from every department, to ensure a consensus agreement on a new carrier and plan.

"Anthem is the oldest insurance company in the nation and every hospital in Indiana is in the network," Branham said.

Bradshaw is grateful for all the effort Branham and the committee has put in to find the biggest benefit for the city.

"I am proud of Judy and the members of the Insurance Committee for the hard work they have done to get us to this point," she said."

Branham concurred and said it feels good to help in any way she could.

"It is difficult to change insurance carriers each year and we are hoping to have a long-term relationship with Anthem," she said. "It was a lot of difficult work, but it is rewarding to have helped he city and all of its employees."

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