Health plan changes could be ahead for Jax city workers, retirees - Florida Politics

Health plan changes could be ahead for Jax city workers, retirees

A potential change in health insurance for Jacksonville city employees and retirees could be in the offing, via a bill that cleared the first of three City Council committees Tuesday.

Ordinance 2017-20 would authorize Jacksonville’s employee services department to offer the option to workers and retirees to enroll in the UF Health plan starting on Jan. 1.

The contract would be administered by a third party, “Integra Administrative Services,” via a no-bid contract.

The bill summary refers to this deal as a “network option under the City’s self-insurance plan that consists primarily of UF Health providers.”

It would be an “employee election,” confirmed Councilman Greg Anderson.

“I think this is a great step forward,” Anderson said, one that “builds on the relationship” between the city and UF Health.

Councilman John Crescimbeni was more skeptical that employees would adopt the plan without some “very innovative marketing.”

The deductible and the maximum out of pocket expense would, said an administration representative, be more favorable for plan recipients — thus offering incentives.

For UF Health, a rollout of a program like this could be a game changer.

The city spends $88 million on health claims a year, with only $6 million going to UF Health.

People in both the mayor’s office and on the council have expressed a sincere desire to get more of a paying customer mix at the city’s safety net hospital.

Jacksonville, unlike other Florida cities of its size, lacks an indigent care tax; this surfeit makes UF Health funding especially vulnerable to flux in state and federal funding.

Estimates from the employee services division are that 500 to 600 of the city’s staff and retirees will choose this option, which would move them away from Florida Blue.

The plan is said to be revenue neutral for the city, yet allows a meaningful cushion for funding formulas that may be shaky from Washington or Tallahassee in the coming years.

This bill will be considered Wednesday by Rules and Finance.

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