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Whitefish Bay Saves $622,000 Through Insurance Modification

The village will save $347,000 this year and at least another $275,000 in 2014 by contracting directly with an insurance provider instead of through the state's Employee Trust Fund.

Whitefish Bay was able to save at least $622,000 over the next two years by changing the way it contracts with health insurance providers.

Typically, the village acquires its benefits through the state's Employee Trust Fund. Most employees choose WEA Trust, which offers the lowest-priced plan. After conducting an analysis, the village's insurance broker determined it was able to save money by eliminating the state as a middle man and contracting directly with WEA Trust.

The Whitefish Bay Village Board voted in approval of the two-year insurance plan at its Monday night meeting. Although it's a two-year plan, the contract will be signed one year at a time.

The WEA Trust Plan comes in $347,000 under the price offered through the Employee Trust Fund. The village saved at least another $275,000, due to a price lock not to exceed a 9 percent increase in 2014. The village could save more money if insurance premiums increase less than 9 percent in 2014.

"If you chose the lowest-price provider through the state plan for next year, it is WEA Trust. We're just buying it direct. We're buying the exact same plan. Same deductible, same everything," said Village Manager Patrick DeGrave. "We're saving that much money just by cutting out the state as the administrator of the plan."

Under the new insurance arrangement, employees would no longer be able to choose an insurance plan through another provider, such as United Healthcare. Without Act 10, the village would've had to negotiate with unions over health insurance.

"We'll work with the unions, just like we have over the last three months," DeGrave. "We let them know what we are doing."

Because Whitefish Bay's budget was already published and sent to the state, the $347,000 was not shaved from the tax levy, but will be put in the bank for future use. Next year, any savings left over from the insurance modification will be available for a potential tax cut.

The savings maneuver was overseen by Hayes Company, whom DeGrave has worked with in the past. Because of his relationship with the firm, DeGrave said the firm was willing to forego a direct fee and instead collect a small percentage of the premium percentages — which insurance brokers do anyway.

"I don't have the time or expertise to go shop insurance," he explained. "That's why you go to a broker. That's how they earn their money."

Village employees will pay 9 percent of their monthly premiums, which are $564 for a single plan and $1,277 for a family plan. DeGrave said he will meet with employees on Nov. 29 to answer their questions about the switch.

Harry November 21, 2012 at 02:04 PM
must be nice to only pay 9% of your health premium........
Louie Miller November 21, 2012 at 03:06 PM
What % reduction is this from the former expense? 20 - 25%? Whatever it is, it represents the union contract coerced, WEA Trust impact that constiuents of every municipality and school district has paid through the years. Apparently $1.5M savings over 5 years, no change in any coverages -- thank you Governor Walker for doing what our elected and hired leadership has been unable/ unwilling to do.
Jamie Kowalski November 21, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Anyone thought of asking the State to explain why its admin costs are so high?
Lu November 23, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I think you missed a key part, mr. sore loser. Without Act 10, the village would've had to negotiate with unions over health insurance. Face it, Act 10 is the best thing that has happened to Wisconsin taxpayers since Governor Thompson reformed welfare decades ago.
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Paul, did you get ahold of some bad turkey or something? Why would I care if the Village buys from WEA Trust or not? If it's the cheapest program, so be it. Go with it. Act 10 has provided WFB and other communities savings in terms of removing the union stranglehold on negotiations for benefits as a whole. That's where the savings come in. By rights, all government employees should have their health insurance benefits removed and be forced to purchase their insurance from the ACA pools - once they're in force here. But for now, this will suffice.
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Sorry about the delay, Paul. It's kind of a tradition in our house on Thanksgiving to get together with family members for a turkey dinner, to watch some football, hang out, catch up on family stuff, etc. This year we went down to Oak Park - spent the night there - had breakfast with them - more family stuff, you know. The kind of thing most people would do on a Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Kind of interesting coincidence, though, in light of your little performance here. Right across the street from our relative's place lives a guy who's a football coach or something for school system. His girlfriend just left him after putting up with his drunken, obnoxious selfish behavior for a couple years. He's well known in the neighborhood as the penultimate, arrogant, self-serving - and now, lonely - jackass. Prominently displayed in front of his house - not one, but two yard signs proclaiming his rather sad and unfriendly looking abode a "Proud Union Home".
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 08:49 PM
You're not Paul Trotter?
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Sure, go ahead.
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I'm thinking he already does.
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Nah, nothing serious about it whatsoever.
Bob McBride November 23, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Okay. You too.

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