Hayden switches to Blue Cross

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JUDD WILSON/Press City administrator Brett Boyer explains how much Hayden City Council members could save taxpayers by switching health care providers Tuesday night.

HAYDEN — Council members voted to change city employee health care providers at the City Council’s meeting Tuesday.

The issue came up as part of the fiscal year 2019 budget deliberations but needed a separate vote, said city administrator Brett Boyer. Human resources chief Shawn Langenderfer told council members that the city’s current health care provider, Regence Blue Shield, had projected a 15 percent increase costing the city $62,174.76.

The Regence bid also included increased out-of-pocket maximums for the gold and platinum plans, a change in the gold plan cost for preferred brand name prescriptions, and changes to the co-pay amounts for gold and silver plans, Langenderfer said.

Conversely, Blue Cross could offer the city similar health and vision coverage with only a 4 percent increase, or $16,105.50, over what it pays now, she said. She advised the council to switch to Blue Cross based on the savings of $46,069.26, but acknowledged that employees would face some changes in their out-of-pocket costs.

She also said that employees who currently had the platinum plan would lose it, since Blue Cross did not offer a comparable plan. However, she added, Regence was also planning on increasing the out-of-pocket costs of its insurance, and was likely going to eliminate the platinum coverage for small cities like Hayden in the future, so such changes were unavoidable.

“I don’t want to lose the platinum, but the savings are substantial. It makes sense,” Langenderfer said.

She also recommended keeping city contributions to employees’ health savings accounts at their current levels. Council members voted unanimously to adopt both of her recommendations.

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