Weirton panel looks at insurance

WEIRTON – The city’s Finance Committee met Wednesday to discuss looming changes in insurance policies for 2014, among other matters.

Health, vision, life and dental insurance for city employees were on the agenda, and Nathan Mazur of Wells Fargo Insurance Services was on hand to help break down some of the possible changes.

“Claims ran higher this year compared to previous years, but we tried to preserve benefits and keep the cost near what it is today,” Mazur said.

Under the proposed new health insurance plan, premiums will rise 4.68 percent, but the city will still fund the deductible for employees. The policy will cover employees 100 percent for treatment at Weirton Medical Center and 90 percent at any other medical facility.

Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh asked, “How does this plan hold up to the Obamacare mess?”

Mazur assured the members of the committee that the new policy is well within the bounds of the Affordable Care Act and will not lead to penalties in the future.

Under the current policy, employees of the city are provided with a card allowing them to access funds for co-pays on prescriptions or doctor appointments. This card will be eliminated, which will be one of the biggest changes for employees. There will be a series of enrollment meetings planned to explain this and other changes in further detail.

Premiums for vision insurance coverage will increase 4 percent in 2014, while life insurance will remain the same. Dental insurance is expected to minimally increase.

In addition to the insurance discussion, committee recommendations were made to support the purchase of uniforms for the Public Works Department through a two-year contract.

Another motion was made and carried to enter into a contract for the purchase of equipment inserts for the police department’s three new vehicles. This equipment would include bumpers and a Fiberglas insert made for back seat prisoner transport. Police Chief Bruce Marshall explained that this insert is designed to make the vehicle safer for his officers and easier to clean, which is important when dealing with bodily fluids.

The committee also voted to recommend city financial support for the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. City Manager Valerie Means pointed out that money going to the BDC will be used solely for economic development and that the BDC has already invested millions in the the city.