Every year, the City re-negotiates medical, dental, and vision insurance rates for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning October 1. Due to an increase in medical claim activity over the past year, the bid for 2020/2021 from our current carrier, Blue Cross, was 14.5% or $1,557,000 higher than 2019/2020. The City analyzed cost alternatives to the Blue Cross plan, including joining an association of municipalities in Southeast Idaho in an attempt to leverage potential cost savings with a higher number of covered lives. Bids were received from multiple insurance companies and while some plans were less expensive, they did not provide the continuity of services Blue Cross has continued to provide to City employees. In addition to increased costs to the health care plan along with forecasted financial impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City is faced with a tight overall budget for the rest of this fiscal year, extending into the 2020/2021 fiscal year. As a result, City Council has determined that the only viable option with the current circumstances is to pass on a higher percentage of insurance costs to employees. This decision was not taken without a great deal of discussion of the impacts to the employees.
Despite the raised employee premiums and plan modifications, the City still has a generous and highly competitive employee benefits package.