Health insurance costs rising for Denham Springs employees

The city’s health insurance claims, coupled with mandates from the Affordable Care Act, will cost the city an extra $14,000 per month in health insurance premiums next fiscal year, city officials said Tuesday.

Under a new health insurance plan the City Council approved Tuesday night, monthly premiums for employee-only coverage will rise from $486 to $565 per month, according to figures provided by city officials.

The city covers 100 percent of the employee-only rate, Mayor Jimmy Durbin said.

Employees who select employee-plus-one or family coverage are responsible for paying the difference between those rates and the employee-only cost covered by the city.

The monthly premiums are rising despite the council’s decision to stay with Blue Cross but switch to a health maintenance organization plan that includes higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

The cost jump is largely due to the city’s claims, which outpaced premium payments by 230 percent for the 12-month period ending in March, Blue Cross representatives said.

The city will offer employees an alternative Premier Blue plan, which has lower deductible and out-of-pocket costs and a higher co-insurance rate, Durbin said.

The premiums for the Premier Blue plan are $50-$100 per month higher than the new HMO plan, according to figures the city provided.

Employees will be responsible for paying those additional costs, Durbin said.

Human Resources Director Gary Watson said 164 of the city’s 191 employees have health insurance coverage through the city. Of those, seven have family coverage and 22 have employee-plus-one.

Watson said he expects the number of employees opting for more than employee-only coverage to fall with the premium increase.

“It’s getting harder and harder for employees to cover their family, and that happens every time there’s an increase,” Watson said.

Watson said city officials have worked hard to provide the best insurance options they can for employees.

Informational meetings and packets will go out soon, so employees can make informed decisions as to which option they will select for the next year, he said.