Good news for city workers: No hike in insurance rates

HARLINGEN — With health care insurance premiums reaching record highs, employees’ apparent good health helped the city buck the trend this year.

A drop in employee insurance claims helped the city keep its premium down.

Last night, city commissioners approved a $6.5 million contract with Blue-Cross Blue-Shield of Texas.

“Our claims have run better this year than they did last year,” Scott Gibbs, the city’s insurance consultant, told commissioners in a meeting.

Last year, the city’s insurance premium jumped from $6.2 million to $6.5 million, leading commissioners to pull $300,000 from the budget to cover the increase.

“Claims can spike or go up and down,” Gibbs said. “We’re definitely running better than expected cost ratio.”

Nearly every year, the city’s health insurance premium takes a big chunk out of its budget.

“This exercise is usually more painful every year,” Mayor Chris Boswell said.

This year, there’s more money in the bank.

“This is welcome,” Boswell said. “This will hopefully help staff with our budget.”

And it means the city’s 700 employees — working at City Hall, WaterWorks and Valley International Airport — will not feel the pinch in their pocketbooks.

Last year’s prices will offer the same benefits.

“There are no changes to the prior year,” Gibbs said. “The coverages and rates will be same and the premium we charge employees will be the same.”

This year, the proposed policy would cost individual employees $414 a year, while family coverage would cost $1,441.

The policy offers $1,500 deductibles for individual employees and $3,000 deductibles for families.

While primary care co-pays would cost $25, prescription drug co-pays would charge $15 for generic drugs and $45 for brand-name drugs.