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Waddington looking to cut health care costs

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WADDINGTON — The Town Council is considering switching its retirees’ health care plans in an effort to keep next year’s tax levy increase below the state’s 2 percent cap.

Under a new health coverage proposal, retired employees would switch from a Medicare supplemental plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan.

The switch was proposed by town Supervisor Mark Scott at a special meeting Monday.

The plan is set up as a health reimbursement account, an employer health benefit plan that reimburses employees for a maximum of $1,250 for out-of-pocket medical expenses and individual health insurance premiums. Procedures or visits beyond $1,250 would be paid for by the Medicare Advantage Plan. The town will continue to pay half of the premium for dependents, or up to $625 for medical expenses.

The difference is that it requires retirees to pay upfront for medical care and to file a claim in order to be reimbursed for expenses.

Town Clerk Carol A. Burns “is always happy to work with retirees to file claims,” Mr. Scott said.

He said all medical expenses covered under the old plan will be covered by the new plan. The new plan also will include hearing exams and an eye exam covered by co-pay, which were not previously covered.

“There really is no downside,” Mr. Scott said. “It’s a no-brainer.”

The difference in savings comes from the premiums, he said.

“Currently, we are paying $360 for premiums,” he said. “Under the new plan, we would reduce that to $193 per month. If they don’t utilize the HRA to the maximum extent, that is another opportunity for additional savings to the town.”

The town would save $3,200 to $8,840 annually for all retirees and their dependents on the Medicare Advantage plan.

“It depends on how much they utilize the HRA and how much their co-pays are,” Mr. Scott said.

If the health reimbursement account use rate is at least 50 percent, the town stands to save $5,000 to $6,000, Mr. Scott said.

“It doesn’t sound like a whole lot,” Mr. Scott said. “But that’s enough to keep us under the 2 percent tax cap. We are always looking to keep the tax levy stable, and we continue to look for areas to save.”

The Town Council will discuss the issue at its next board meeting at 7 p.m. March 11.

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