City of Toccoa Approves Health Insurance Plan Change

The city of Toccoa will switch health insurance providers in 2014 in a move officials say will save the city money and provide some improved health benefits to employees.

City commissioners voted unanimously Monday to switch from Alliant Health to the Georgia Municipal Association’s health plan.

At a work session prior to Monday’s meeting, city commissioners met with Matt Bidwell, who consults with the city on its health insurance plan.

He said Alliant, whom the city is currently with, proposed renewing the city’s policy next year with a 24 percent premium increase.

In comparison, he said the GMA offered to enroll the city in its health plan at virtually the same premium the city is paying this year.

Bidwell said the city seeing a premium increase would not have been unexpected, so the GMA’s offer was a pleasant surprise.

“Anything in that 10 to 15 percent range (for a premium increase) would have been a very, very good offer,” said Bidwell.

Bidwell also recommended going with the GMA plan because of changes that he says will benefit employees as well.

According to Bidwell, there are lower out-of-pocket limits and lower co-pays in a number of areas.

In addition, the plan approved by city commissioners calls for no change in the employee contribution to their health insurance premium next year if they are on the base $1500 deductible plan.

Those employees choosing to be on a $500 deductible plan would actually see a decrease in their contribution, based on the plan approved by commissioners and the formula used to calculate those contributions.

Employees on the $500 deductible plan pay a higher contribution to cover the extra cost of their premium.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said when all things are considered, the switch is a win-win for everybody.

“It is better for them (the employees) and there is no increase (for the city),” said Austin.  “In this day in age with what is going on the insurance world, not having an increase is close to a miracle.”

The new plan will take effect January 1.