Smithfield To Discuss Rising Health Care Costs For Employees At May 19th Workshop

Rising insurance premiums are a big factor for many municipalities putting together their new fiscal year budgets.

In Smithfield, town officials will meet on May 19th to try and find a way to offset a sharp increase in costs this year, and to avoid passing along added costs to employees and retirees.

If the town chooses to stay with the same benefit structure, premiums would increase by 16.22%. An alternative plan, which could increase deductibles and co-pays, would still cost 9% more.

However, council members expressed concerns at their April 21st workshop about the increased costs while at the same time not wanting to raise deductibles for employees. The Board asked the town manager and his staff to see if there is anyway to avoid a 16.22% cost increase without cutting benefits.

The 16.22% increase equals about $168,979 more the town would have to pay to maintain the same level of coverage for their 138 full time employees. The Town also pays 100% of medical care for 25 qualified retirees.

One possible option is to eliminate dental insurance currently offered at no cost to full-time employees, or have employees pay for dental insurance if they wanted the coverage to continue. That would save $52,578 per year.

Presently the town pays $447.84 each month for insurance for each full time employee, without any cost to the employee. The new monthly premium would increase to $520.49.

It costs employees $375.08 per month to add health coverage for their spouse, $212.74 to cover a child, and $722.16 to cover their entire family. The council has not decided if those costs would change due to the premium increase effective July 1st.