The Pryor Times

December 13, 2013

Pryor MUB approves insurance plan

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — Federal mandates on health care have made their way down the pipes down to Pryor's Municipal Utility Board employees.

MUB met last week to discuss renewal of employee health care benefits with broker Kurt Schultz of AmeriBank Group Benefits.

The meeting ended with accolades from everyone about the rich benefit package available to employees.

The board approved selecting the Idea Plus One package for medical coverage, continuing with Delta Dental and Symetra. As MUB and city employees are combined for the purpose of benefits, this approval was contingent upon Pryor City Council approving the same packages at its meeting the next evening, which they did.

The meeting began with MUB general manager Gary Pruett thanking Schultz for his dedication.

“We know this could have been a fiasco, given everything we've heard about this Affordable Care Act, but Kurt kept his cool and worked for the betterment of MUB and the city,” said Pruett.

MUB was unable to renew the existing plan as it will no longer exist under the guidelines set forth by the Affordable Care Act. The new package includes an 18 percent cost increase.

“That increase is nothing to sneeze at, I know,” said Schultz, who said this package represents the closest in cost to the old plan without sacrificing coverage.

“Both the city and MUB have ongoing medical conditions that significantly and negatively impact the cost. That's where the discussion of separating MUB and the city occurred,” said Schultz. “When we looked at MUB on it's own, the increase was going to be 33 percent, rather than just 18 percent.”

“I commend everyone involved, cool heads prevailed. The city would be OK if they were separated, they know the tables could flip next time so they are sticking it out,” said Schultz.

The increase in dental coverage is 8.01 percent. For example, an employee plus spouse currently paying $51.48 per month will be paying $55.60 under the new plan.

Schultz reminded the board in looking at these numbers that MUB pays 99 percent of the employee's benefit cost. MUB does not pay the full amount, Schultz said, to allow the employees even more options.

“By only paying 99 percent, if anyone wants to opt, out they are allowed to do that. If we pay 100 percent, they would not be able to opt out if that's what they wanted to do,” said Schultz, adding that  MUB's monthly cost for health benefits is roughly $33,657.

Schultz, who is the broker for both MUB and the city, said January billing cycles will include all ACA fees.

“They will begin in January and will continue every month thereafter, indefinitely,” said Schultz.

These fees include Health Insurance Tax, Transitional Reinsurance Fee and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Fee.

Schultz also made a proposal to the board that he, as the broker, take a 20 percent pay cut by switching from commission pay to fee-based pay.

“Up until now the broker has always been compensated through commission. We cannot legally charge commission and a fee. We've never even charged the full five percent fee we're allowed, we charge three percent,” said Schultz. “Switching to fee-based pay will reduce our compensation by 20 percent, but you guys have been hit with an increase,  we should feel the pain  too.”

Having run through all the details of the proposed plans, Schultz took a moment to reiterate the value of this plan to the employees. By offering this plan, he said, the result is that MUB employees will not have to access to shop around for medical coverage.

“This is a tremendous plan. No matter what comes up, whether the bill is $300,000 or $500,000, the most a MUB employee will have to pay out of pocket is $15,000. That's a huge comfort,” said Schultz.

“When I sat down to do the budget this year I knew this would be an expense we'd be facing. So I only did a two percent pay increase in hopes we could continue to pay this,” Pruett said.

 I think this coverage is more beneficial than a bit more pay,” said Pruett. “On behalf of the employees, I thank you.”