“Citizen’s group offers health benefits changes”

Councilwoman Liz Brown.  Courtesy photo.

Press release from Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown:

“Citizen’s group offers health benefits changes”
Incentives encourage/reward healthy lifestyle

Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown, R- at-large, met for several weeks with a group of local business and community leaders to develop strategies to rein in the rising cost of health care for city employees, while giving those employees the tools to live a healthier lifestyle and save taxpayer dollars. The major purpose for these recommendations is intended to assist employees in adopting more and better ways to positively impact their and their family’s health and well being. Living a healthier lifestyle can lead to a longer and higher quality of life which, in turn, may help reduce the need to seek health care for a chronic condition.

The recommendations developed by the task force were sent to the city administration recently. While these recommendations have no binding power, the task force hopes the administration will give them considerable thought as they begin to look at plan changes for the next open enrollment period for city employees. The city is self-insured and works with a third party administrator to put together annual plans that employees elect to commit to each year. With the cost of health care continuing to plague the city budget, this task force took the experience and knowledge of these members as they shared their insight into “best practices” and workable solutions.

The members of the task force who worked to bring valuable viewpoints to the group were City Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd; Fort Wayne firefighters Don Niemeyer and Paul Veldman; Jay Miller, CFO of Perfection Bakeries; Mark Hagar, owner of Specialized Printed Products and Hylant Group partners Leigh Smith and Pat Sullivan.

While recommendations as a whole were not unanimous, there was consensus by the group. The recommendations follow:

  • Budget $1,000.00 per year per Public Safety retiree, placing money in a secure escrow account to fund their retirement costs
  • Premium increases should reflect the increases in the city’s health insurance budget
  • Evaluate the financial viability of joining with the county in their on-site employee health clinic
  • Eliminate the $500 deductible and add another deductible level of $1500—this leaves a choice of deductibles at $1000, $1500 and HSA plan
  • Any new Public Safety non-civilian employee hired as of January 2012 (or after next contract negotiations), on their eligible retirement (approx 2037), will be subject to pay 25% of the active premium rate at that time
  • Spouses who are eligible for insurance coverage from their place of employment must enroll in that plan as their primary insurer
  • Increase the out-of-pocket maximum by $1000/single and $2000/family
  • Add more Wellness Program incentives:
    • Smoking Cessation classes, Weight Watchers program added to $500 savings already implemented for wellness screenings or gym membership
    • Return $10 to employee per wellness screening (eg PSA test, mammogram, bone scan) up to five (5) screenings per year
    • Reward employee with to-be-determined credit amount off annual premium if certain health criteria is met (eg. normal glucose levels, non-smoker, normal weight) either at time of annual health fair or over the current year of benefits

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  1. Hmmm, do NOT see evidence of any regular ‘citizens’ in that group. So a city employee can have as many children as they want and all can be covered under the city plan. (Does Ms Brown cover her SEVEN children with the city plan?) A stay at home dad/mom can be covered under the city plan. But have a working spouse – they want the family to pay TWO insurance premiums, one for the family and one for the individual. I know we can not afford to pay two premiums. The premiums are astronomical, and the coverage my spouse’s employer provides is so terrible, we would never be able to handle the expenses if forced to use as primary insurance. This group needs some insight into the REAL WORLD where every penny is pinched these days! Just another example of putting the screws to the hardest working families in the economy – those trying to make ends meet with two barely adequate salaries. No worries for the executives with stay at home wives, they will still have all the benefits they have come to expect at their station in life!


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