Board of Aldermen approves health insurance rate increase for the city

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Oxford Board of Alderman called a special meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the 2022 health insurance rate increase that, according to Mayor Robyn Tannehill, came as “a bit of a sticker shock.”

Health insurance rates were intended for presentation on the next regular board meeting, but the board received notice that required them to move faster. On Friday, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association notified the city that the health insurance forms were to be signed and submitted by Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

Oxford’s Human Resource Director Braxton Tullos said a increase was expected since the city had seen a decrease in insurance the past couple of years, but they did not expect it to increase as much as it did.

“We’re looking at a 26% rate increase with Blue Cross Blue Shield,” said Tullos. He also reported that 101 city employees met their deductible in 2021 to the board’s amazement.

“It surprised us,” said Tannehill. “We thought it’d be less. Healthcare costs have certainly been affected by COVID.”

She said St. Dominic Hospital is advertising to pay registered nurses $80 per hour and that is included in the healthcare rate increase.

According to Tullos, Morgan White Group took their rate down 5% to help with costs but would not go any lower. Rate reductions have been requested from Blue Cross and Worldwide Insurance, but both organizations already submitted their final quote.

“Brad Camp from Morgan White put out a bid for services but everywhere has declined to bid with us,” he said. “So the numbers are what they are.”

Due to the increase, the city was sent a plan for a $250 rate deductible increase. If the city chooses to agree to the deductible increase, it could potentially save the city $55,000.

The Alderman were not pleased with how the increase would affect city employees, especially the employees who are on family plans who will feel the increase more than others.

“Everything is going up and I hate to put that on the employees,” said one board member.

“I feel like people work for the city of Oxford for insurance and retirement,” said Tannehill. “I think those benefits are what’s most important to our workforce and, in my opinion, I think it’s a cost we have to absorb. It’s unfortunate, it’s unexpected and it’s certainly not something we budgeted for, but I do believe we need to take care of our employees the best way we can.”

The city has not received life insurance quotes as of yet, but they will be presented during the next regular Board of Alderman meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 5 PM in the Oxford City Hall courtroom.