By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
Though the city held out for a month in hopes of finding cheaper and comparable insurance for its employees, it could end up sticking with its current provider.
Killeen's city employee insurance committee decided Wednesday to recommend that City Council members vote to retain Scott & White Health Plan as its sole health insurer. After more than two hours of debate, most committee members agreed that though the plan raises insurance premiums an average of 27 percent, it trumps the 12 other proposed plans.
After throwing out several plans that included premiums even higher than Scott & White's, the committee narrowed the list down to BlueCross BlueShield and the Scott & White plan. Debbie Maynor, Killeen's director of human resources, said the difference in the plans' premiums totaled less than a dollar.
Despite the similarities in plans, several committee members considered the pre-existing condition clause of the BlueCross BlueShield plan a deal breaker.
The clause requires newly hired employees with pre-existing conditions to wait 12 months before being fully covered. Until then, the employee would be ineligible for coverage of inpatient care, medical surgery and extended care.
Officer Laura Duskie said the clause kept her from leaning toward a vote for BlueCross BlueShield. For new officers, the clause could prevent them from receiving coverage for injuries they sustain while on duty.
"That could be an issue because of the work we do," she said.
Councilman Juan Rivera agreed.
"I cannot see a civil service (worker) come here and not have insurance 'til 12 months," he said. "I have a problem with that."
But for Kimberly Gray, Killeen library clerk, the benefits of the BlueCross BlueShield plan canceled out her concern about the clause. She said that though the plans were similar, she simply felt more at ease with a move to a new plan.
"To me it seems more reasonable," she said. "I'm going to get more for my money than with Scott & White."
Despite such remarks and several votes for BlueCross BlueShield, the 10-person committee will take its next step during a special City Council meeting Tuesday and recommend that council members vote to keep the city's plan with Scott & White.
Council Chairwoman JoAnn Purser said the insurance committee will consider wellness programs and co-ops with other entities like Killeen Independent School District during later meetings. During a past council meeting, Lee Green, a Scott & White representative, said the company had to raise premiums because of excessive use of the plan. Implementation of wellness programs and other initiatives could keep city employees healthier and help offset the higher premiums in the future.
Contact Hailey Persinger at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568.