Casper Council authorizes joining State of Wyoming’s health insurance pool

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper plans to join the State of Wyoming’s health insurance pool, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

That move was authorized by the City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 6. They passed a resolution which will mean that City of Casper employees will receive health insurance under the state’s plan.

The City of Casper had utilized a self-funded health insurance model since 1984, according to a memo from Support Services Director Tracey Belser.

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City staff became aware in May that joining the state’s plan was an option.

In the short-run, City Manager Carter Napier has said that joining the state health fund could come with added costs to the City of Casper, though joining the state’s pool would also allow more City of Casper employees to obtain coverage.

The state’s insurance options would provide coverage to all retirees, while under the city’s plan, those under 65 are not eligible.Part time and seasonal employees would also be eligible for coverage.

During Council’s July 23 work session, Napier said it was difficult to project which plan would be more cost-effective to the city over the long run because not all costs can be anticipated and the City of Casper does not know what the state’s premium rate increases year to year will exactly look like.

The council also discussed the difference in the deductibles under both plans. Under the current plan, the deductible is at $2,000 but in the state’s plan, this is only $500.

“To be able to offer $500 deductible would be a really nice benefit,” Casper Mayor Charlie Powell said at the work session.

Napier told the council that the advantage of staying with the city’s own plan would be that the council could make adjustments to the plan whereas they would lose that flexibility joining the state’s pool. Joining the state plan requires sticking with it for a minimum of five years.

He told the council that joining a larger pool could also reduce the risk to the city.

Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz pointed out that another advantage of the state plan is that the “out of pocket max” is about $4,000 with the city plan and $2,500 with state plan.

“These things matter too. Out of pocket max are pretty common with someone with a family,” Lutz said at the work session..

Support Services Director Tracey Belser said that joining the state pool would not affect the retirement savings agreement negotiated with the fire department.

Further details of the City’s projections about joining the state’s plan are included in the Council’s work packet.

City of Casper