published Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Kimball to offer city employees a state-sponsored insurance option

By Ryan Lewis, Correspondent

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- Municipalities across Tennessee are being given the opportunity to offer their employees a state-sponsored long-term care insurance program.

On Thursday, the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to offer their employees the optional insurance.

City administrators in Jasper, Tenn., are considering the same option for their employees this week.

"It's an opportunity that's been provided by the state to allow local governments to opt into the long-term care insurance program," Kimball City Attorney Billy Gouger said.

The insurance would go into effect when someone "develops a need for long-term care or assistance such as assisted living, nursing home care or at-home care," he said.

Officials said a municipality's only job is to honor a payroll deduction if employees enter the program.

Towns such as Kimball and Jasper are not committed to paying any premiums, Gouger said.

"If [Kimball] is not going to be out anything, why wouldn't we give this option to the employees?" Kimball Alderman Jerry Don Case said. "Then it's up to them to say [yes or no]."

Kimball Mayor David Jackson said the cheapest option is $61 per month for three years of coverage, and the premiums can go as high as $165 per month.

"The rates are a little higher than I had anticipated," he said.

The maximum period covered by the insurance is five years, Gouger said, and it includes a 90-day open enrollment period where "any employee is eligible, regardless of health conditions."

"As our population nationally is getting older, this is becoming more and more of an issue," he said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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