Bel Aire City Workers are losing the Health Care They Like
BEL AIRE, Kan. - Contrary to President Obama's promise that "if you like your health-care plan, you can keep it," the city of Bel Aire, Kansas, announced that their employees have received notice that due to the Affordable Care Act, their current insurance will no longer be available.
Bel Aire Mayor David Austin says they learned three weeks ago their benefit plan will no longer be offered, because it does not meet the new federal requirements. "We had a health insurance plan that our employees were happy with, that was working quite well for them, and for us," said Austin. "And because of this new law, the federal government has come in and said it's not good enough," he said.
Bel Aire is a small city with approximately 7,000 residents. They employ around 30 full-time employees along with a number of part-time staff that Austin says are all very dedicated individuals.
City Manager Ty Lasher, said in a news release that they had had a couple of employees who worked 20 hours a week and the city still allowed them on the health coverage plan. However, now the plan will not cover anyone unless they work more than 30 hours per week. Therefore, those part-time employees will now lose their health coverage.
Earlier in the year city council anticipated there might be an increase in health costs, and added that to their budget for the year. Mayor Austin says they were fortunate to be able to lower taxes, and now find another provider. But, he says there will be additional costs, without the chance of making adjustments until it's time to address next year's budget. "It's a mess here for our small city and our small staff, who do more with less every day," Austin says. "And one of the things we want to be able to do is take care of our employees," he added.
Bel Aire was able to find similar group coverage through another provider. For employees in their 20s, premiums increased only slightly. However, premiums nearly doubled, for employees in their 50s. "Had we not found this other option, and who knows what's going to happen in the future," he says. "It could have caused a tax increase," said Austin.