Kimball, Tenn., OK's health insurance increase

Kimball, Tenn., OK's health insurance increase

December 11th, 2013 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

David Jackson

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

KIMBALL, Tenn. - When the state's health insurance saw another 5 percent increase in costs this year, city leaders searched for another, cheaper option.

Officials solicited local insurance agencies over the past three months in hopes of getting a better arrangement for city employees.

Mayor David Jackson said the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen reviewed the city's current health insurance policy and the proposals from local companies last week.

Even though they could save money elsewhere, he said, the federal government's Affordable Care Act represents too many unknowns to make such a bold move now.

The board voted unanimously recently to accept the state's 5 percent premium increase and stay with that program.

City Attorney Billy Gouger said some of the other options the board considered were plans that would not be grandfathered in under the ACA.

"So, there would be no guarantee a year from now that the same plan or the same coverage would be available, particularly at a cost that would be affordable to the town," he said.

In fact, officials said the city's plan through the state could be affected by the ACA after next year, but right now, there's no way to know for sure.

The risk with leaving the state's plan is that there is a two-year waiting period to rejoin it, Gouger said.

"That one year of uncertainty after next year is simply not worth the risk associated when compared to the five percent premium increase," he said. "I think the recommendation of the board at the workshop is the correct one to make."

Jackson said Kimball could save about $20,000 per year in insurance premium costs if it chose a local provider, but the dangers involved with that were just too great to make that choice right now.

"We, as a board, did not want to risk our employees' health insurance at this time by making a bad decision," he said.

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