City Stays With BlueCross After Staff Finds United Healthcare Lacks Full Coverage For Retirees

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tina Camba
Tina Camba

The city is staying with BlueCross BlueShield for its Medicare insurance plan after city staff members said retirees were right in their concerns about United Healthcare coverage.

Tina Camba said it was learned last Thursday that United Healthcare would not be able to serve one provider.

Vince Dean, who expressed concerns of retirees last Tuesday, said retirees were told that CHI Memorial was the provider that would have been left out of the coverage.

The City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to approve a resolution that continues the current plan with BlueCross for the next year.

Ms. Camba said the plan involves an increase of $3 per month.

For the rest of 2018, it will be $300 per member for the Medicare Blue Advantage plan Option 1 and $372 per month for the Medicare Blue Advantage plan Option 2.

City officials had said last Tuesday night they would take a second look at details of a switch to a new insurance provider after retirees raised the concerns. City Attorney Wade Hinton said city staff began working on the issue the following morning.

Ms. Camba earlier said proposals from Blue Cross and United Healthcare were the same. She said there would be no reduction in benefits and providers would remain the same. However, she said in light of all the concerns expressed, that she would reaffirm that United Healthcare could provide the same coverage as the current carrier. Then she learned the retirees were correct.

She said retirees who had already pre-enrolled with United Healthcare would be switched back over to BlueCross.

Mr. Dean, a former state legislator who is now Criminal Court Clerk, had asked the council not to confirm the contract until the coverage issue is resolved. He said retirees got low pay, but were always promised they would get monthly pension checks, annual cost of living raises, and that their coverage would be the same as all other city employees.

Mr. Dean said the annual cost of living raises went away earlier. He said retirees do not want to lose access to any of their healthcare providers or their pharmacy benefits.

Ms. Camba earlier said United Healthcare had some offerings that are better than the current provider, and many employees were happy about that.

She said United Healthcare was the choice of a committee that studied both insurors.

Councilman Ken Smith asked that in the future that retirees have a say in helping pick an insuror.

Bonnie Woodward, city purchasing director, said only city staff can serve on the committee, but she said the group could take input from the retirees.

Mr. Dean said under state law he felt that the meetings of the selection committee should be open to the public. 

Ms. Woodward said it is a closed process.

 


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