July 8, 2010

20% Health Care Share in Warwick

Marc Comtois

It took them a year and a half, but it looks like the City Council has realized that municipal employees are going to have to pay 20% of their health care (and not a flat dollar amount) every pay period (via Warwick Beacon).

The city, which is self-insured, meaning it pays its own health insurance claims on an ongoing basis, would save roughly $3.7 million in costs if employees paid 20 percent of the premiums.

Currently, Warwick City employees pay $14 per week for an individual plan and $28 per week for a family plan. Last year, that made up for roughly 10 percent of the cost. With the double-digit rates of medical industry inflation, that means employees will be paying at least double that amount under a 20 percent co-share premium payment.

Warwick teachers are paying $11 a week for health care.

In addressing how schools could cope with a projected $9 million budget shortfall, Superintendent Peter Horoschak suggested a 20 percent health insurance co-payment for all school workers that is estimated to save $3.7 million.

Mayor Scott Avedisian said yesterday in an e-mail that he would speak with his advisors before taking a position on the proposal.

As I mentioned back in March of 2009, "Mayor Avedesian explained that his Administration's analysis indicated that--because Warwick is self-insured and that co-share payments are largely affected by the management costs--the city will actually do better" than previous years by going with the increased flat fee. I'm not sure if the numbers show that, but one thing for sure is that a percentage would have been a much wiser move over an increased flat rate. Further, as some may remember, there was also some naive hope that the General Assembly would pass a statewide, mandated 25% health care co-share. Right.

The bottom line is that this was all predicted a while ago and it finally took the worst economic crisis in most of our lifetimes for local politicians to wise up. Even a blind squirrel, or a pack of 'em, finds a nut every once in a while.