City of Waupaca retirees would no longer have access to the city’s health plan under a proposal being considered.
The idea was brought before the city’s Personnel Committee when it met on Oct. 6. No action was taken, with some committee members saying the entire Common Council will have to weigh in on it.
“It is making our health insurance very expensive. It is being brought forward because we have been told for a number of years that this is the way it is moving,” said City Administrator Henry Veleker.
He told the committee it may sound cruel to eliminate this benefit for those who have served the city for 30 years.
“But, it’s driving up the premium for current employees,” Veleker said.
That is because some retirees have higher health care costs.
“For a long time, we have allowed our (retired) employes to use our health insurance,” he said.
Some use their accummulated sick leave that was banked to cover the cost, while a few continue on the city’s health insurance once they have used up their banked sick leave, paying the cost at their own dollar, Veleker said.
Eliminating retiree’s access to city health insurance was in mind as the city’s 2012 budget was put together. Plans call for a 0 percent increase in the health insurance premium.
The city would have to implement plan design changes, including the elimination of access to health insurance, to achieve it. Any increase in premium would be borne by the employees.
Higher deductibles will be considered, he said.
The city has to renew its health insurance contract by Feb. 1.
Veleker told the committee that is why the issue is being brought forward now.
If a change is made in regard to retirees being able to access city health insurance, he said the retirees should be given time to find new carriers.
Richard Thompson is one retiree who continues paying to be on the city’s health insurance.
The former street superintendent said he has not used up his $250 deductible this year but knows not all retirees are as fortunate.
He told the committee that pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, mean people have to be free of the disease a particular number of years before other insurance carriers will even look at them.
“I think this should be for future retirees,” Thompson said. “Then, everyone will know up front.”
Veleker said if the city makes this change, it looks like the retirees who are currently accessing the city’s health plan would be able to use COBRA. But, future retirees would not.