Natchez should resolve health insurance deficit

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 29, 2001

Questions remain as the City of Natchez finds itself trying to scrounge up $250,000 to fund the city’s health insurance debt.

Was it poor management or simply bad luck? We’re not sure yet, but we suspect it may be a bit of both.

City leaders say two factors led to the current deficit: an unusually large number of health insurance claims and rising health insurance costs.

Apparently the city has been using a system that is a bit of a gamble. The city uses a two-fold system for covering city employees’ health care. The city self-insures on claims below $25,000 – meaning small claims are paid directly by the city. Each year the city sets aside a certain amount of money to help fund those claims.

For larger claims, the city uses a &uot;reinsurer&uot; to provide coverage.

The hope is that the claims paid out directly by the city remain less than the money set aside for that purpose. Well, this year the dice didn’t roll the city’s way.

Now, even the old back-up method of borrowing money from the gaming fund to cover shortfalls isn’t working.

We’re stuck, apparently, with no easy way out in sight.

Whether the current situation was caused by poor management of taxpayers’ money or simply a case of bad breaks, it doesn’t really matter. The result is the same.

City leaders must work diligently to resolve the issue and see that it doesn’t happen again by ending the guesswork in each year’s budget.