Divided council moves to change employee health insurance | News, Sports, Jobs

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A new employee health insurance arrangement that could save up to $330,000 a year, but makes some elected officials uneasy was approved by the Fort Dodge City Council on Monday.

The council voted 4-3 to join the Iowa Governmental Health Care Plan Trust, effective July 1.

Council members Kim Alstott, Dave Flattery, Jeff Halter and Lydia Schuur voted yes. Council members Neven Conrad, Andy Fritz and Terry Moehnke voted no.

Conrad noted that the council had been briefed on the proposed change for the first time on Feb. 24.

“I’m just a little leery to jump on board,” he said.

He said he would like to see an independent insurance expert review the proposal and perhaps offer alternatives.

Moehnke said he does not want to see any changes to insurance that could hurt the city’s ability to recruit and retain employees.

The city of Fort Dodge is now fully self-insured for employee health care. The city is now responsible for the first $50,000 of any claim.

The Iowa Governmental Health Care Plan Trust was established in 2005. It consists of 36 government entities with 9,000 employees.

Employees covered under the trust can use any doctor partnered with Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Jamie Anderson, the city’s human resources director, has said that Clive, Council Bluffs and Webster City have had “great success” with the trust.

Moehnke said that Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield once severed its relationship with an insurance company that works with the trust, and two insurance agents had their licenses suspended.

Anderson said that situation has been resolved.

“We’ve done our research,” she said Monday night. “All the relationships are kosher. We’re good to move forward.”

Conrad asked if the city had contacted any local insurance agents regarding the switch to coverage through the trust.

Anderson said there had not been any such contacts. She described the trust as “a unique type of pool for public entities.”

Anderson and other city staffers have been exploring health insurance alternatives since last year. Leaders of the employee unions were informed of the proposal on Feb. 18. Additional meetings with employees are planned for next month.

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