Aldermen could get cheaper insurance

Members of the Board of Aldermen could get cheaper medical insurance if it approves a proposed resolution this week. City seal

The resolution would allow Bartlett’s six aldermen to participate in the city’s group health and dental insurance at the same rate as city employees. Aldermen were expected to vote on the issue during their Tuesday night meeting.

Aldermen already can participate in the city’s health plan. The board passed a similar resolution in 1984 that made inclusion possible. However, that resolution also requires those aldermen who participate to pay the full cost of the insurance premium. All other city employees pay a percentage of the premium cost.

“It was a different world in 1984,” said Mark Brown, the city’s chief administrative officer. “Had the board not adopted this ordinance then, they probably would have been included at the (cheaper rate) all along.”

City employees who elect to participate in the insurance plan pay for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee and Delta dental coverage through paycheck withdrawals.  For a city employee or other eligible member of the plan, that rate can range from $59 to $182 per month, said Peter Voss, the city’s personnel director. The difference depends on whether only the eligible member is on the plan or if that member chooses to add qualifying dependents, he said.

Under the 1984 resolution, however, aldermen who choose the same plan would pay between $395 and $1,210 per month. That means the proposed resolution could save an alderman more than $1,000 per month if he or she elects the plan and includes a family of dependents.

It also means an alderman who chooses the insurance under the family plan rate could cost the city more than $12,000 per year. Brown said the city has not budgeted for the possibility that it would have to pay a portion of an alderman’s health insurance premiums.

The rates, provided through the city’s insurance broker, are good through June 2014, said Voss.

Brown said the city drafted the resolution upon the request of some of the aldermen. While Voss said none of the aldermen are on the city’s plan now, he anticipates some will join based upon the request to create this resolution and the cost savings. Although those eligible for the plan can join only during open enrollment, Voss said the city has open enrollment ongoing now. He said he believes that interested aldermen could take advantage of the plan if this vote passes.

The resolution is not unprecedented. Germantown and Collierville allow their alderman to buy into health insurance at the city employee rate, said Brown. He also said some suburbs in Shelby County do not at all include aldermen in their health plans.