Fargo Explores Prevention Options in Employee Health Plan – InForum
FARGO – Contraceptive coverage may soon be available to City of Fargo employees through proposed changes to employee health plan options.
City commissioners were given an updated overview of the city’s health plan options on Tuesday, September 6, after Commissioner John Strand floated the idea of contraceptive coverage back in July.
Many residents supported including birth control options in the city’s health plan at Tuesday’s meeting.
The North Dakota AFL-CIO, a local union federation campaigning for the change, called on workers who support the plan “in solidarity with city workers as they are demanding contraceptive coverage in their health insurance” to vote planning to fill the meeting,” it said in a statement.
“Fargo is the only city on the Tri-City Metro that doesn’t have a contraceptive coverage,” said Amber Emery, a 13-year-old employee at the Fargo Public Library, who read from a letter she and some of her colleagues wrote. “What I’m asking for today is to make my daughter’s life and my life a little bit better by making this available.”
Both West Fargo and Moorhead currently have birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, according to a memorandum released by Strand and Commissioner Arlette Preston.
“It would just show how much the city as an employer values all of the employees here,” said Whitney Oxendahl, a former library board member, who pointed out that the improved insurance could help retain employees.
Jill Minette, Fargo’s director of human resources, presented options to the commission for the health plan moving into next year.
Adding contraception would force the city to change its old-school plan, which didn’t need to be changed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.
A new plan, which would incur additional city and employee spending, would provide employees with additional healthcare options under the modern standard of healthcare outlined in the ACA.
“Our plan is grandfathered because the key provisions of the plan have remained the same,” Menette said. “We are exploring the possibility of offering a non-grandfathered plan in addition to the grandfathered plan.”
When a new health insurance plan is added, employees have the option to enroll in either plan based on their coverage needs and the premium level that best suits them and their family.
“I like the idea of options for our employees,” Minette said.
Additional costs for the taxpayer and additional cost premiums are also taken into account.
Blue Cross-Blue Shield (BCBS) preliminary 2023 renewal information includes a 4.8% premium increase for the existing plan.
A plan without grandfathering would add an additional 1.5% premium increase.
The benefit of paying that 1.5 percent premium increase this year, according to Mayor Tim Mahoney, is that employees get 100 percent coverage for retirement.
Mahoney said that despite the premium increase, the no-grandfathering plan is a popular option for employees because of the overall savings from preventive insurance, noting that the plan would cover colonoscopies.
Mahoney said Fargo could issue a request for proposal (RFP) for a new health plan next year.
“I would guess that if the industry senses that one of the biggest players out there…needs change…they’ll sharpen their pencils and come to us,” Strand said.
The meeting with BCBS to discuss in detail the potential birth control options for a new plan will take place next week, Menette said.
Fargo will present a plan proposal to the commission later this month on the city’s health plan options, with information sessions for employees in October.