health as it happens

To Really Save, End City Health Care For Retirees - Jamestown Post Journal

Creating new options for Medicare-eligible participants in the city’s self-insured health insurance program makes sense — but we doubt it will make much of an impact on the city’s bottom line.

Retirees will be given the choice to move onto a Medicare plan when they are eligible. After one year, anyone who chooses to leave the city’s plan would be allowed to return if they are not satisfied with the new options. And, if either of the two new options changes those who left the city plan would be allowed back. Any Medicare-eligible participant who enrolls in one of the two new plans would not have to pay for health insurance for five years. He said after five years, the person would be locked into the current rate they pay for life.

The city could potentially save $1,580 per participant per year and on average could save up to $1,800 per year per participant in the initial five years.

City officials are smart to suggest this change ahead of the city’s 2022 budget talks. In our view, the city shouldn’t book a ton of savings from this plan into the budget. As we heard from city retirees last year, they like their health coverage, and many are uncomfortable moving from the city plan to Medicare.

Retiree health care is a problem in the city budget, so the city must take action to whittle that number down over time. This plan is a small step, as was a similar effort several years ago from former Mayor Sam Teresi. But in the end, the best way to decrease the retiree health care number is to stop offering the benefit to new employees in the first place — and that change will have to be agreed to at the bargaining table with city employee unions.

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