Friday, November 1, 2013

Sun Valley renews city’s health plan

Agreement allows city to modify or terminate deal on month-to-month basis


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer


The Sun Valley City Council on Oct. 21 unanimously approved a one-year renewal of the city’s health plan with Regence Blue Shield of Idaho.

Mayor Dewayne Briscoe said the special meeting was called after the provider suddenly informed the city it had to renew the plan effective Dec. 1 and would have to make a decision by Oct. 26 or be canceled out.

Before a motion to renew the plan, Briscoe addressed the challenges that would come with switching providers.

“The benefits are the same, and I think we have an excellent health plan,” Briscoe said. “If we were to switch plans, there might be employees, spouses and children that would be caught between long-term treatments and having to change doctors, so I think there are a lot of reasons to stick with this plan.”
Regence Blue Shield of Idaho has been Sun Valley’s healthcare provider since January 2007. The city budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 accounted for a 10 percent increase in the health plan’s premium. Councilwoman Michelle Griffith said the city is locked into a 5 percent increase, and that the city would’ve risked facing a 38 percent increase by not renewing.

Briscoe told the Mountain Express he is pleased with the renewal, as the city’s employees can go to an extensive network of doctors that are part of the plan in the Wood River Valley. He noted that while there are cheaper plans, city employees would have to commute to Boise in order to receive care from an in-network provider.

Additionally, the city can seek to modify or terminate the plan on a month-to-month basis, but Briscoe said he doesn’t foresee a situation in which the council will consider those options. However, Regence Blue Shield is locked into the plan, which means they cannot modify the agreement.
Briscoe said the plan is an asset to Sun Valley’s government because it is a significant recruiting tool for prospective new employees.
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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