No savings on combined insurance

Published 9:57 pm Monday, March 14, 2016

Combining the city’s and school division’s health insurance plans wouldn’t be likely to result in any savings, a joint committee learned on Monday.

The City School Advisory Committee for Collaborative Fiscal Concerns looked at the issue as one area where the two entities could potentially save money by combining.

“I don’t anticipate any savings by combining the two plans,” said Teresa Yates, an employee benefits practice leader with USI, who works with the city dealing with its health insurance.

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Yates said both the city and schools have done a good job keeping their administrative costs low, which would be the most likely place to find savings if they were to combine. Both already are taking advantage of opportunities such as educating their employees on wellness to help keep costs low, she noted.

Yates said the so-called “Cadillac tax,” which will penalize employers who offer “rich” plans, has been delayed from 2018 to 2020, so that also gives the entities more time to look into health insurance changes.

Councilman Mike Duman, one of four members on the committee, made a motion to have presentations from Sentara, Bon Secours and Riverside on health plans they offer.

“I think it behooves us to at least take a look at it,” he said before the motion passed.

The committee also is going to continue investigating having a pharmacy for city and school employees to use. The school division looked at it individually in the past and learned it wouldn’t save money, but it might be a different story when combined with the city, Duman noted.

“It changes so quickly that we have to stay on top of it,” Councilman Tim Johnson said of the health care arena.

Updates on other projects of the committee also took place during Monday’s meeting. A memorandum of understanding is being worked out for the energy performance contracting project, which the two entities expect will save them money on energy costs through efficiency upgrades.

In addition, City Manager Patrick Roberts said the city would continue to look for opportunities for joint storage space as it updates the capital plan.

The committee’s next meeting is June 13.