GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Now, city employees in Gulfport will have three options when it comes to healthcare coverage. A third option was created amid concerns some employees would be unable to afford more expensive plans.
"A lot of calls were made to the council complaining that they would have to opt out of the insurance because of the high increase," says Ricky Dombrowski, Ward 5 councilman.
The council says this third option allows employees to pay less than the other options and still have a safety net should something major occur.
Currently, an individual pays $16.50 a month with a $500.00 deductible. Under this new third option, an individual would pay $25.00 a month, an increase of just $8.50 But, the individual would have to pay a $2,000 deductible. Under this option, on average, an employee and spouse as well as an employee and family would pay about $20.00 more each month.
"That's a good deal...that way they can afford it," says Dombrowski.
Facing an $11 million deficit, the council said it had no choice but to increase insurance costs. It says if changes were not made, it would have had to eliminate 18 jobs.
Costs have gone up by 10% for options already offered. An individual who decides upon "option I" will pay around $85.00 a month, have a $500.00 deductible and a lower copay. Those who go with "option II" will pay around $64.00 a month, $1,000 deductible and a higher copay.
Though costs have increased, the council said it took whatever steps it could to get everyone covered.
"We want to make sure we offer as many people as we can in our city and as many people who want to participate in our insurance plan an option," says R.Lee Flowers, Ward 6 councilman.