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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved a different option with the Western Wisconsin Municipal Consortium WEA Trust for employee health insurance that is expected to save the village about $10,000 per year.
The village currently provides health insurance for employees through WEA Trust, and the new option would have the same network as the current option, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s November 26 meeting.
The new insurance option will go into effect January 1 and will save the village about $2,000 per month in premiums.
The option includes an “embedded” Health Savings Account (HSA), and the village board also approved putting $500 for each employee into the HSA accounts.
The new insurance will save employees between $20 and $30 per month in premiums, and while the deductibles are more, the out-of-pocket maximum is less than the current health insurance.
Another difference is that instead of a co-pay for office visits, the employee will pay the entire cost of the office visit, but the office visit will count toward the deductible.
The same is true for co-pays on emergency room visits and prescription drugs. The employee pays the entire cost of an emergency room visit and for prescription drugs, but the amount counts toward the deductible.
Several board members were hesitant about shifting more of the cost for health care to the employees.
For example, the current health insurance plan has an individual deductible within the network of $2,000 and a deductible out of the network of $4,000, and a family deductible in the network of $4,000 and out of the network of $8,000.
The new insurance increases the deductible by $1,000 for an individual within the network and increases the deductible by $2,000 for the individual out of the network to $3,000 and $6,000, respectively.
The family deductible increases by $2,000 in the network and by $4,000 out of the network to $6,000 and $12,000, respectively.
The out-of-pocket maximums, however, are $1,000 less for an individual with the new insurance within the network, and are $8,000 for the individual outside of the network, which is the same maximum out-of-pocket expense for an individual outside of the network as the existing insurance.
The family maximum out-of-pocket is $2,000 less within the network at $6,000 and the same out of the network at $16,000.
Village Trustee Anne Jenson noted that Colfax does not pay as much in wages as other municipalities.
The village recently lost an employee who took a job with another municipality paying $23 per hour and covering 100 percent of the health insurance, she said.
Maybe if the village provided better health insurance, the village would be better able to keep employees, Jenson said.
The Village of Boyceville also, essentially, pays 100 percent of the health insurance for employees, noted Rand Bates, director of public works.
Colfax pays 90 percent of the health insurance premium, and the employee pays 10 percent.
Under the new insurance, an individual employee will pay about $66 per month for health insurance, an employee with a spouse will pay about $130 per month for health insurance, and employee with children and no spouse will pay $126 per month, and a family of four will pay $163 per month for health insurance.
The co-insurance is the same for both plans and expenses after the deductible is met are covered 100 percent within the network and at 80 percent outside of the network.
The village’s share per month for health insurance will be $10,471, with a total annual premium of $125,658.
The current health insurance plan, representing an increase of 3.9 percent, would have cost the village $147,088 in 2019.
The Colfax Village Board approved the new health insurance option on a vote of five to two.
Voting in favor of the motion were village trustees Keith Burcham, Margaret Burcham, Mark Halpin, Anne Jenson and David Wolff.
Voting against the motion were Gary Stene, village president, and village trustee Carey Davis.
Jenson initially wanted to abstain from voting and indicated she was leaning toward a “no” vote.
When other village board members pointed out it would not matter if Jenson voted “yes” or “no” because there were already enough votes to approve the motion, she decided to vote “yes.”
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved a bartender’s operator license for Jenna Storing for the Blind Tiger from November 26 to June 30, 2019.
• Approved keeping the T-Mobile contract for telecommunication equipment on the Colfax water tower at the current rate of $1,174 per month with a 3 percent annual increase. Niggemann said she was unable to find out information about the cost to relocate the equipment and that T-Mobile had never returned her telephone call. T-Mobile has had telecommunications equipment on the water tower in Colfax for nearly 10 years and started out with a payment of $900 per month.