Townships say insurance costs not rising in '14
Many local townships might not feel the sting of rising employee insurance costs now.
But, come 2015, those same townships figure to be hit hard, at least in part, due to the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as "ObamaCare."
The Affordable Care Act is a United States Federal Statute that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.
Together, with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, it represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
Among its many provisions, "ObamaCare" gives new patient protections in dealing with insurance companies, and in return, mandates that everyone who can afford to must obtain health insurance by 2014.
ObamaCare is already affecting one township.
Eldred Township supervisors announced last month that they are facing nearly $14,000 in increased costs for employee insurance.
Chairman Clair Borger said that the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors is canceling its health care insurance with the Trustees Insurance and Retirement Service, who contracted with a Trustmark for Aetna coverage.
Located in Enola, Cumberland County, PSATS previously had its insurance through Trustmark, which canceled its health care insurance, which had been provided by Aetna Network of Providers, according to Ginni Linn, director of Communications, editor, Pa. Township News, PSATS.
As a result, Linn said PSATS works directly with Aetna now, and it is the new insurance provider, instead of Trustmark. Trustees is now contracting directly with Aetna, who will be the organization's new carrier, she said.
"Essentially, Trustmark is not going out of business," said Linn.
"They simply are no longer offering a fully insured health care plan, but they continue as a life insurance company with other products."
The company will offer the same coverage but it will cost an additional $4,634 per employee for the year.
The township pays health insurance for three full-time people. Under the new ObamaCare, that health insurance will now cost the township an additional $13,902 per year.
Some other townships interviewed in the area say they won't be affected by rising employee insurance costs in 2014.
Penn Forest Township
Penn Forest Township won't see any increase in employee insurance costs next year, according to secretary/treasurer Mary Ann Lewellyn.
Lewellyn said the township does not use PSATS for its insurance.
"We have (coverage) through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Northeastern Pa.," Lewellyn said. "They will continue our policy into next year until ObamaCare shakes out."
Lewellyn said the township's rate went up about $5 per employee. In all, she said the township has six full-time employees, five of whom are covered by vision and dental. Of those five, four are covered by medical insurance, said Lewellyn, who added that only one of the six is not covered with anything.
The insurance runs the township about $500 for medical per employee, as employees have a 20 percent co-pay, whereas vision and dental is about $38 per employee, which is covered by the township, Lewellyn said.
Mahoning Township won't be affected next year either, according to secretary/treasurer Natalie Haggerty.
Haggerty said the township pays health insurance for nine full-time employees, though actual figures were unavailable in time for today's publication.
"We're fortunate," Haggerty said. "We were able to lock in at our current rate with our current provider, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pa., until January of 2015."
After next year, Haggerty acknowledged, "There's a lot of questions that are unanswered."
Lower Towamensing Township
Lower Towamensing Township won't be affected either, but for a totally different reason: The township does not provide employee health insurance, according to secretary/treasurer Christine Wentz.
Instead, the full-time employees of the township are covered under their spouses' health insurance, Wentz said.