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Berlin cleared to change coverage for city workers

SALEM

July 6, 2012
By MARY ANN GREIER , Salem News

City council authorized Mayor John Berlin to change the city health insurance coverage from Anthem to Medical Mutual, a move which could save the city $150,000 per year in premium costs if employee unions approve the idea.

Berlin said the administration and the four unions representing city employees have been negotiating the medical insurance reopener for three weeks, with another meeting set for today.

The medical insurance reopener was included in each of the three-year labor contracts ratified last fall between the city and the unions representing employees in the police, fire, service and utility departments.

About 75 workers are represented by the four unions, which include the Fraternal Order of Police Ohio Labor Council, the International Association of Firefighters Local 283, AFSCME Local 2701 for the service workers and the Utilities Workers of America Local 560 for the utilities workers.

Council met in executive session for more than a half hour Tuesday for personnel, and later in the meeting during open session voted to give the mayor authorization to enter an agreement to change the health insurance coverage.

The city had been told earlier this spring that the insurance cost would increase 8 percent next year under Anthem, but according to Berlin, the company later reduced the increase to a proposed 3 percent for a one-year term.

He said under Medical Mutual, costs would go up 5 percent, but for a two-year contract, so the cost would be locked in for two years.

He explained that the cost under Anthem was estimated at $1,165,782 for one year while the cost under Medical Mutual was estimated at $997,451. Berlin said under Anthem, gym memberships are included for employees. Under Medical Mutual, he said they would not be covered, but the city could cover the cost itself for the employees as part of the deal, which he said would cost about $15,000. With that added to the Medical Mutual total, he said the savings would be about $150,000 for the city.

Under the proposal, the cost to employees would go up marginally, with deductibles staying the same.

Berlin said the change to the insurance remains just a proposal at this point, pending approval by the unions and their members.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at mgreier@salemnews.net

 
 

 

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