Tallmadge -- The health care provider for the city's 97 full-time employees was set to change July 1.

Tallmadge City Council voted June 22 to authorize an 18-month contract with Jefferson Health Care. Coverage had been provided for the last 18 months by SummaCare.

"Our (city) costs are going to go up about 4.7 percent starting in July," according to Dr. Donald Cooper, the city's director of administration, but employees' contributions will not increase until 2018.

All other carriers quoted higher prices than the Jefferson Plan using Aetna, and the Jefferson Plan using Aetna also had one of the largest networks, which made it a very attractive offering, Cooper reports. "The highest cost quote was from SummaCare," Cooper says, "which involved an increase in premium costs of well over 20 percent."

For the remainder of this year, the city will absorb the increase, Cooper says, meaning employees' contribution will not change in 2017; however, In 2018 there will be an increase, according to Cooper, which will vary based on the plan employees' choose. "We don't know exactly by what (amount) their contribution will increase in 2018 yet," he says, "because ... at the end of this year we'll need to review claims and see what type of increase will be necessary." Cooper says city officials "are working on some imaginative ways to phase in the increase."

City employees also will see their deductible go from zero to $250 under the Jefferson plan.

The city spent $1,512,273.75 for health care in 2016, reports Mollie Gilbride, the city's Director of Finance.

There are four categories of employees under the Jefferson plan: single; an employee plus spouse; an employee with children; and family (employee/spouse and children). Under SummaCare, there are three categories and employees currently pay the following per pay as their contributions to healthcare insurance premiums, which includes prescription coverage: single, $56.51; employee + one (spouse or child), $99.28; and family, $139.42.

Summa, a single provider, had offered the city the option to renew its coverage; however, Tallmadge Mayor David G. Kline says the offer included a "pretty substantial" rate increase. So city officials decided to shop around, Kline says coming to the conclusion that as a consortium, Kline says Jefferson offers the benefit of economies of scale with individualized options.

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