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Officials hope insurance switch saves $300,000 for city

NATCHEZ — Officials hope to save the City of Natchez over $300,000 a year by switching the health insurance provider for city employees.

The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved the switch to a self-insured plan with Byrne Insurance Agency — administered by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi — during a special-called meeting Friday by a vote of 5-1.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard voted “nay,” and said after the meeting that he’d hoped the city would have a fully funded plan instead of a self-insured one — in which the city has more cost exposure based on the amount of health claims.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said a self-insured plan, mirroring the city’s current plan with L.S. and Associates, allows the city to have greater control of their health insurance costs and therefore a greater opportunity for savings.

The current plan with L.S. and Associates cost the city more than $1,570,000 with the cost of the plan and health claims combined, Gibson said.

The new plan with Byrne Insurance, based on current health claims, is projected to cost approximately $1.3 million with 168 employees insured, Gibson said.

“Our claims could increase by $300,000 plus and we’d still be as good as where we are now,” Gibson said.

The employee deductible is the same with both plans at $1,000 for individual and $2,000 for family, Gibson said.

Dillard said he wasn’t comfortable with the city’s cost exposure going into an uncertain fiscal year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was hoping for a fully-funded plan simply because I’m uncomfortable with the outlook of the next fiscal year as far as our finances. I know our budget is tight and the savings from a self-insured plan are going to help but I believe the difference is only about $92,000 between self-insured and fully funded. Other than that, I think the mayor’s recommendation is a good choice and I hope he proves me wrong,” Dillard said.

The motion to accept the new plan was offered by Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis and seconded by Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter-Smith.