Harlingen approves health insurance policy: Blue Cross-Blue Shield

HARLINGEN — The city and its employees are going to see big savings in health care.

City commissioners have approved a $6.3 million health insurance policy with Blue Cross-Blue Shield, saving about $400,000.

Commissioners scrapped the city’s current $6.3 million plan with Allegian Insurance Co., which proposed increasing its rates by 6.4 percent, or about $400,000.

“It’s great for the city,” City Manager Dan Serna said of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan yesterday. “It’s a great opportunity to give employees a good health insurance plan that keeps them healthy without an increase.”

The new policy also keeps caps on employee contributions.

Employees will continue to pay $500, $750 and $1,000 for their share of individual plans.

“It’s rare these days when we get to deliver a zero-percent (increase) on both sides,” Scott Gibbs, the city’s insurance consultant, told commissioners last week.

The savings come as officials work to balance a proposed $41 million general fund budget.

Last month, Serna warned officials the city could face as much as a 7 percent increase in health insurance costs.

Still, city commissioners are considering a possible property tax increase of as much as 4 cents per $100 valuation.

The city returned to Blue Cross-Blue Shield after four years, Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the city contracted with Valley Baptist Health Plans for health insurance from 2012 to 2015.

Valley Baptist Health Plans changed its name to Allegian in 2014.