Selectmen approve FY 2019 health insurance rates and health savings account plan

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – Town Manager Kevin Mizikar presented new health insurance plans to the Board of Selectmen for their consideration at their March 14 meeting. Because of a conflict of interest, Selectman Maurice DePalo recused himself from the discussion and vote.

Mizikar shared details of the new health plan that will be offered to all active employees and non-Medicare retirees. The recommendation comes from the Insurance Advisory Committee and there are two primary factors for consideration of this model.

The first is that Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are a cost mitigation plan tool within the healthcare industry. The second is that the town’s legacy rate saver plan is going away July 1, and, as a copayment plan, it is being phased out of the market as are all such plans in the industry. Employees will still have the Benchmark Plan as an option.

“It continues to allow the town to provide sustainable health insurance programs that do have true value to our employees and it’s certainly a more consumer-driven model.” Mizikar said.

“In setting up the HSAs, I think what you are saying is the employee will contribute half the amount, and the employer will contribute the other half and it’s meant to balance off the deductible and it’s tax-deferred,” inquired Selectman Moira Miller seeking clarification.

Mizikar stated that the employee is not required to contribute.

“Having just gone through this, it can be really confusing,” shared Selectman Beth Casavant who questioned whether or not there were support systems in place to help guide employees through the process and to answer any questions. Mizikar assured her that there would be.

Mizikar also presented the new rates for health insurance for the coming fiscal year. The town’s Insurance Advisory Committee voted Feb. 28 to recommend the rate structure as provided through the West Suburban Health Group.

The range of percentage rate increases from various health providers in the area are from 6.5 percent to 9 percent. Most of the town’s employees fall within the higher percentage.

Selectmen unanimously approved the adoption of the Health Savings Account, Qualified High Deductible Health Insurance Plan as well as the FY 2019 Health Insurance Plan rates.