Change is Needed

January 19, 2011
By

Employee health insurance programs need  to be altered for everyone’s benefit

One of the best-known problems in municipal government today is the unsustainability of health insurance payments made by city hall for employee health insurance programs.

Employee health insurance programs are so much cheaper than those of us pay in the private sector that it is an embarrassment.

It is much more than an embarrassment to the cities and towns that they are being forced to maintain these costly health insurance programs for their employees even though the cities and towns can no longer afford them.

In a city like Revere, health insurance payments have gone up by millions of dollars during the past five years – probably about $8 million more than the five years before that.

In another five years, they will rise another $8 – $10 million and the city will be out of business trying to make health insurance payments.

City unions everywhere need to renegotiate their health insurance contracts or they will lose them entirely when the entire house of cards collapses.

Right now, it remains bonanza time for city employees with city paid for health insurance.

House Speaker Bobby DeLeo has called the health insurance problem one of the top three problems in state government today.

Governor Deval Patrick said in his state of the state address two weeks ago that correcting the health insurance imbalance was at the top of his priorities list, right up there with public safety and education.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said last week that the city of Boston could save $1 million a month if city unions went with the state’s GIC, the cooperative that offers health insurance for far less than cities and towns pay for it now.

Most city and town unions representing public employees have refused to join – even though virtually nothing would be lost.

But now cities and towns are coming together and even unions are beginning to understand that if they go down to the wire refusing to negotiate, they are going to lose big time when the hatchet falls on bills that cannot be paid.

Those of us in the private sector must pay 100 percent of our health insurance.

City employees pay an average of 10 percent – and they are complaining that it isn’t fair.

Most city employees have co-pays of $5.00 compared with those of us who pay for our health insurance whose co-pay can be $30 or more even after paying as much as $1600 per month for a family plan.

A day of reckoning is nearly upon us.

Something must be done to realign the responsibilities having to do with paying for city employee health insurance.

If this doesn’t happen soon, city employees face a brave new world.

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