Chief Wants To Wait A Year

BENWOOD – Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell says he will recommend to city council that they opt to extend Benwood’s current employee health insurance contract by more than one year, giving the market an opportunity to adjust to the Affordable Care Act.

City officials said last week they may consider hiring a consultant to help them navigate the provisions of Obamacare, but they have since learned that isn’t necessary, explained City Clerk Judy Hunt. Some independent insurance agents have contacted the city and offered their assistance, with their fee being part of the commission they would earn upon selling a plan to the city.

The move to gain better understanding of the Affordable Care Act came after Benwood officials were told by some insurance providers they could be assessed a 40 percent excise tax on the “Cadillac plan” for healthcare coverage they presently offer their employees. Benwood has 13 city workers who pay nothing for their healthcare benefits and have no deductibles.

The Health Plan has offered to extend Benwood’s current plan through Nov. 30, 2014 at a 5 percent increase to the city, Hunt explained. Individual plans for employees currently cost the city $457 per employee per month, while family plans cost $1,371.

Longwell did not get to make his recommendation to council as a council meeting set for Tuesday night was canceled due to a lack of quorum.

“My advice to them is going to be for us to stay put,” Longwell said. “Let’s see how the new law plays out over the next year. By that time, 20 million people will have entered the marketplace, and the premiums might drop with competition. Benwood could be in a better financial position.”