Letter to the editor: City administrator talks insurance for elected officialsPublished 9:10am Thursday, December 26, 2013
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the letter to the editor that was published on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, regarding insurance for elected officials.
Insurance for elected officials is an eye-grabbing headline, but the issue is broader than this headline.
The City of Niles employs 51 part-time workers who would be eligible to participate, some of which have maintained healthcare insurance through private carriers covering themselves and/or family members for some time. The Affordable Healthcare Act appears to be a promising alternative for these employees, but as of this time it has encountered many delays, much uncertainty and questionable costs.
In the meantime many private healthcare plans were eliminated when new insurance policy requirements went into effect this year. In addition to the eliminated policies, others lost their ability to reenroll in their policy, if it was allowed to expire due to late payments.
The City of Niles, as an employer, is very concerned that our employees and their families are healthy, not only from a compassionate point of view, but also from a business point of view. If our employees are not healthy or are removed from the work place to care for family members, then we do not have the staff to properly deliver the services that our citizens expect and deserve.
In this case, a councilmember was willing to openly discuss his medical needs, the difficulty he has experienced since losing his health insurance. His story is not the only one. In this instance he was willing to share his story in place of our employees sharing their story in public.
The city was able to establish an insurance group for part-time employees (Council Members are considered part-time employees for this group). The city does not subsidize the monthly premium for the insurance offered to this group.
The group has to pay the full monthly illustrated (COBRA) rate and has an individual deductible of $5,000 and a family deductible of $10,000. While this is not inexpensive insurance it is the only alternative for some.
Our plan is to offer this insurance for one year in hopes that the Affordable Healthcare Act is fully implemented in the near future and our employees can find more cost effective coverage.
Richard A. Huff