YELLOW CREEK - A new health insurance program adopted by the Board of Trustees for 2013 has been a cause for confusion and concern to full-time employees of Yellow Creek Township.
Township road workers Gary Mitchell and Randy Matthias were clearly upset at last week's board meeting when they learned the details of a new employee health insurance package negotiated between trustees and Anderson-Campbell Insurance of Toronto. Most upsetting to Mitchell and Matthias was learning that the new plan carries a $2,500 deductible, which is 10 times higher than under the township's previous insurance plan.
The higher deductible had been mentioned in previous board meetings as a way to obtain a health insurance plan with lower premiums. In exchange for the anticipated savings of a new plan, trustees discussed an agreement wherein the township would pay the entire deductible for Mitchell and Matthias.
However, at the township's reorganizational meeting last month, trustees voted to accept a new health plan from Anthem through Anderson-Campbell with the township paying only $1,000 toward the deductible for Mitchell and Matthias. This leaves the workers responsible for $1,500, which is still six times higher than the old $250 deductible.
There was apparent dissension among trustees during the organizational meeting, with David Boyd asserting that he had understood that the township would be responsible for the entire $2,500 deductible as well. "That was the plan to my knowledge," Boyd said on Friday. "I thought Bill Lucas even understood that was it."
When it came to a vote during the reorganizational meeting, however, Boyd said he was surprised that the township's deductible share had been paired down to $1,000, which is why he did not vote for it. He says he remains uncomfortable with how the matter was concluded. "You treat your employees right," he said. "And I don't think this is treated right."
Larry Brewer stressed that it was never the intent of trustees to cause any increased fiscal burden on township employees. While there hasn't been a formal meeting since then, Brewer says there have been discussions about coming to an agreeable solution with Mitchell and Matthias. "There's different ideas being tossed around," he said, declining to provide further details as to what those ideas may include.
Brewer did state that there had been a misunderstanding concerning the deductible during the process of completing the agreement with Anderson-Campbell. "A lack of communication may have come into play," he said. "We've talked about it, and everybody seems to be on the same page now."
Township trustees Kenny Biacco and Brewer have both stated that the paperwork was signed and returned to Anderson-Campbell in a timely manner, and that township employees are currently covered by the plan.
Lucas declined to comment about the matter when contacted by The Review, other than to say that all the necessary paperwork has been received in his office and that a policy had yet to be issued by Anthem.
Adding to the employees' dissatisfaction, both Mitchell and Matthias say they have not received their paperwork or insurance cards from Anthem, leaving them unsure about the nature of their coverage or whether it is even currently effective.
Brewer says he has attempted to make contact with Lucas about the matter, but without success. "No one [at Anderson-Campbell] seems to have any idea about the lack of cards," Brewer said.
Mitchell said that a meeting has been promised to employees, but none has yet been scheduled. "Still yet today, we don't know what we have," he said of the new plan. "I guess we've just got to wait until [the next board meeting] to see what the trustees tell us we have."
This lack of information or cards has already proven troublesome for Matthias, who has recently been stricken with the flu. Via telephone on Friday, he stated that he has been absent from work since Tuesday, but declined seeking medical attention due of the confused situation until Thursday. "Because of that, I refrained from going to the doctor," he said.
Matthias said Anderson-Campbell had provided he and Mitchell with a group number to give their respective providers should a medical condition occur in the meantime. Without a member identification number to go along with the group number, however, the coverage was declined by his doctor. Thankfully, Matthias says his doctor has agreed to hold the bill until the insurance situation is fully resolved.
Biacco said he plans to meet with township fiscal officer Debbie Lyle to review finances for 2013 and attempt to find a solution acceptable to all parties. The next trustees meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the township administration building on Oak Ridge Road.