GALVESTON

The city, Galveston Park Board of Trustees and Port of Galveston likely will add funding to the employee health plan this fiscal year and will ask employees to cover more of the costs starting in January.

As the employee health plan faces shortfalls, trustees of the city of Galveston health benefit plan board voted Wednesday to increase monthly employee contributions to $75 from $50 a month for individuals and to $380 from $330 a month for employees and families or spouses.

Copays, out of pocket deductibles and emergency room deductibles will increase, too, they said.

In total, the changes should bring about $514,000 in savings during the next calendar year, said Kent Etienne, city human resources and civil services director.

Park board and port employees also contribute to the city health plan.

The changes come as the city expects costs for its health plan to exceed contributions by between $1.8 million and $1.9 million this year, city officials have said.

The shortfall comes as the city has experienced significantly more mid-range claims and as health costs have increased, officials said.

During the past fiscal year from October 2017 to September 2018, the plan’s costs exceeded contributions by $911,804, according to city data.

By April, costs for this fiscal year exceeded contributions by almost $900,000, according to city data.

Employees already saw health costs increase in January, when monthly costs rose from $40 to $50 for employee-only coverage and from $290 to $330 for family plans, according to city records.

The city’s looking at about $943,000 in overages on its plan, Finance Director Mike Loftin said.

“I told city council this scares me and it still scares me,” Loftin said.

But the plan also will need some immediate changes to pay health costs through the end of the fiscal year, trustees said.

The plan has about $90,000 in its cash balance, Loftin said.

“We’re going to go ahead and not just make a contribution to the budgeted funds at the end of the year,” Loftin said. “We’re going to make that contribution now.”

Trustees Wednesday discussed putting additional money in the plan in the short-term to pay employee health costs through the end of the year.

How much that will be is still unclear, Etienne said.

Between now and the board’s next meeting at the end of the month, the park board, port and city finance departments will put together a proposal of how much money the plan needs and how much each entity should contribute, Etienne said.

Trustees discussed splitting the amount between the three entities based on employees’ usage or by number of employees.

For years, the board focused on minimizing costs for employees, but its focus now is lowering costs for the plan, Chairman Stewart Goff said.

The board meets next on July 30 to discuss how much funding the plan needs for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; keri.heath@galvnews.com or on Twitter @HeathKeri.

(1) comment

Karen Sawyer

$75 monthly premium for health insurance? That's still a pretty sweet deal.

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