Saratoga Springs, NY — On February 27, 2019, at a special City Council Meeting, Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan brought forward an updated healthcare rate quote that will save the City $300,000 in 2019. This savings is attributable to the City changing their premium rate structure from a community-rated plan, in which the City’s premium risk is allocated across a large pool, to an experience-rated plan based solely on the City. The ability to switch to an experience-rated plan has existed for some time, but Commissioner Madigan held off bringing any change forward until it was confirmed that the City provider would allow the City to return to the community-rated pool should rates under the experience-rated plan rise dramatically.
Madigan stated, “As Commissioner of Finance my priority has always been to effectively manage the budget for City taxpayers. Benefits make up 27% of the total Operating Budget, so this change to an experience-rated plan will dramatically reduce one of the City’s largest costs in the short-term while maintaining flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing market going forward. Additionally, the new plan allows for additional out-of-network benefits for City employees, making this a true win-win.”
Changing to an experience-rated plan and the associated savings are the result of a comprehensive healthcare review initiated by Commissioner Madigan in mid-2018 that included members of the Finance Department, Legal Department, and Human Resources. The review included an evaluation of both the City’s broker and the healthcare provider. Per Commissioner Madigan, “This thorough and open process involved employees across departments and representatives from each of the City’s seven bargaining units. We’re proud of the results and the collaborative effort that went into achieving it.”
The new experience-rated plan will go into effect on April 1, 2019, and the City Council will have the ability to reevaluate whether it should stay in the experience-rated pool or move back to the community-rated pool in the fall annually. This timing aligns with the preparation of City’s budget, a process that begins in the summer and concludes in November of each year.
Madigan states that she will continue to evaluate ways to manage City expenses while still providing resources to meet the demands of the City. “I have kept the property tax rate stable for eight years with my recommendations to contribute to critical capital needs, to create, strengthen, and tap reserves when appropriate, to push for additional revenue opportunities, and to look for creative solutions to address large expense drivers for the City, such as healthcare.”
The Special City Council meeting held on February 27, 2019 will be available on the City website, and Commissioner Madigan will review the process on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.