CASPER, Wyo. — The State of Wyoming currently allows municipalities to join their state health insurance pool.
The Casper City Council decided to join the state’s fund to provide insurance to city employees in August. Casper is set to join that pool effective Jan. 1, 2020.
But City Manager Carter Napier told the city council on Tuesday, Nov. 12 that the Wyoming Legislature will consider a bill that would eliminate this option for municipalities during their up-coming budget session.
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“How does that effect our employees?” Councilman Steve Freel asked. “If come April, they get kicked off that plan, can we get back to where we were?”
Napier said he thinks “it is likely that we will be talking about getting back into the self-funding model in April.”
Prior to the council’s August decision, the City of Casper had utilized a self-funded health insurance model since 1984.
While part of the reason for joining the state’s health fund was to potentially save the city some money in the long run, Napier said in the summer that it would actually come with added costs to Casper in the short-term.
Whether Casper would see long-term savings was also unclear with Napier explaining that not all costs could be anticipated and the city does not know what the state’s premium rate increases year to year will exactly look like.
He told the council that joining a larger pool could also reduce the risk to the city.
The state’s plan would also allow more city employees to obtain coverage.
The state’s insurance options will 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.
Mayor Charlie Powell had also pointed to an advantage of joining the state’s pool; they are able to offer lower deductibles than the city’s plan.
“To be able to offer $500 deductible would be a really nice benefit,” he said in August.
The city’s deductible is $2,000.
Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz pointed to another advantage of the state plan saying that that the “out of pocket max” was about $4,000 with the city plan and $2,500 with the state plan.
“These things matter too. Out of pocket max are pretty common with someone with a family,” Lutz said.
If the legislature eliminates the option for municipalities, Napier said on Tuesday that the city council will “be having the same conversations that we had up until August.”