At a special called meeting on Dec. 14, the LaFollette City Council approved a new plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield for employee health insurance. While the new plan will allow all employees to stay on the preferred network, the employees will not be able to keep all the same benefits they had last year.
The council didn’t choose the plan workers currently have, which would have cost 10.26 percent more, according to E.E. Hill and Sons agent David Rutherford. They considered several other options, including switching to a select plan. This would have reduced the amount the city pays for insurance by 2.4 percent.
“That’s the network that doesn’t have Summit Medical Group and Tennova here?” asked council member Stephanie Grimm.
“It has Tennova here, but not Tennova in Knoxville,” Rutherford said.
Employees who use medical providers that aren’t covered under the select network would have the ability to change doctors or buy up into the preferred network, Rutherford said.
“That’s something we’ll have to ask the people,” council member Hansford Hatmaker said. “We’ll make the decision, but we don’t know where the majority of our people go.”
Grimm asked interim city administrator Cade Sexton if anybody had asked the department heads if employees were interested in buying up.
Sexton said no.
“The reason we didn’t go to the staff is we didn’t know exactly what to ask them,” Sexton said.
Hatmaker made a motion to accept the 298 plan. This is a plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield that would allow the city employees to stay on the preferred network with some changes to their benefits. The cost for emergency room visits will increase from $150 to $250, for individuals on the plan. The out of pocket cost will increase from $1,000 to $1,500, and for families it will increase from $2,000 to $3,000.
The plan will cost the city $947,000, which is about $90,000 a month, Sexton said. This is about $36,000 more than the city budgeted for insurance.