Insurance company offers city no increase

HARLINGEN — Nearly every year, the city faces budgetary challenges to offset the cost of rising employee health insurance premiums.

This year, it looks like the city might receive a break.

“We’re going to be in a really good position with health insurance this year,” Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said yesterday.

With employee insurance claims down, he said, Blue-Cross Blue-Shield of Texas is not raising its rates.

Later today, city commissioners are expected to consider Blue-Cross Blue-Shield’s proposal to renew the city’s $6.5 million health insurance plan.

“When the loss ratios are low, the health insurance companies generally pass savings on to employers by not raising rates,” Gonzalez said.

He said the policy would cover the city’s 700 employees working at City Hall, WaterWorks and Valley International Airport.

Last year, the company increased its rate to $6.5 million, up from $6.2 million the previous year.

As a result, the city set aside $300,000 to offset the increase.

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.