Struthers council OKs coverage
By Jeanne Starmack
The city’s Cost Containment Committee has agreed on health-care coverage for city employees.
The agreement came at a Wednesday meeting as the committee tried to beat an end-of-the-year deadline. If an agreement wasn’t reached by then, the city was facing a 17 percent increase in coverage.
The city still faces an increase of 6.9 percent, which was negotiated down from 17 percent by its insurance broker.
The committee, which consists of representatives from city union and nonunion workers, the administration and council, debated for days about how to keep the city’s cost of family coverage at $1,200, which is the cap specified in the union contracts.
Employees paid 6 percent, or $75 a month, toward the premium for family coverage last year. The city allowed that, instead of 7 percent or $85, as a concession for going to a new benefits system that carved out spouses who could get coverage elsewhere.
The concession meant the city was paying $1 more a month per family for coverage. But with the 6.9 percent increase, the city would be paying $59 a month per family, said city Auditor Tina Morell, who is also a member of the committee. She said the city wouldn’t “eat the increase.”
The agreement offers a primary plan that keeps co-pay for family coverage at $85, which they would be paying anyway, said Morell. Out-of-pocket expenses and the deductibles are higher under that plan, however.
The city is offering its current plan as an alternative, with a buy-up for family coverage of $137.40 a month.
That plan includes new dental coverage that is comparable to what is being offered now, Morell said.
Union workers at the wastewater treatment plant said they would approve the dental plan in their upcoming contract talks. With their approval, which also came Wednesday, the city is able to offer the alternative plan.