Cortland County Legislators voted to recommend a new retiree health care plan at Tuesday’s Government Operations committee meeting.
The measure, which passed 5-1, would help save the county around $800,000 in annual healthcare costs.
The new plan, a Medicare Advantage, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan would expand care options for retired county workers, including the addition of dental and vision care. Representatives from Assured Partners, an insurance brokerage, and the Broome County Purchasing Alliance, an inter-county shared services agreement, detailed the benefits and drawbacks of the plan at Tuesday’s meeting.
Representatives noted retirees wouldn’t have to pay a deductible or a co-pay for most types of care. There would also be a lowered rate for prescriptions. The main downside to the plan would be the introduction of networked coverage for those seeking care. An original Medicare plan, which is available to Americans at the age of retirement, can allow individuals to seek care at any facility in the country that takes Medicare insurance, according to Medicare.gov.
Under some Medicare Advantage plans, including the one proposed for Cortland County, individuals would be under rules applied to private insurance holders, meaning some providers could be outside their network, resulting in further out-of-pocket costs.
The Medicare website also states providers can join or leave a plan’s network at any time during the year. Plan administrators can also change the providers in the network at any time during the year.
The lone “no” vote came from legislator Sandy Price (D-LD-14), who noted she had spoken to county retirees.
“All of them have served us well in the years of their service. I hold each one in the highest esteem,” she said. “Many of those who contacted me have given me and the legislature recommendations over the years. I have trusted their advice and they never let me down.”
Anthony Brothers, the senior vice president of sales at Assured Partners, reassured legislators original Medicare services should continue as the county moves to the new plan if approved by the legislature at its Aug. 24 meeting.
“If you have a Medicare service you’re receiving today, you will continue to have access to those services starting next year,” Brothers said. “We are required to cover at least what Medicare covers today.”
The discussion and Medicare Advantage presentation can be found here.