Health benefits costs Shamokin $68,785 for elected officials in 2013
SHAMOKIN - The cost to the city to provide health benefits to six elected officials and the solicitor was $68,785.56 in 2013, based on an insurance invoice.
Three councilmen and the solicitor received full medical benefits as part of Shamokin's municipal health plan. A councilman, the mayor and the controller received dental and vision coverage.
Had all six elected to accept full coverage, the total cost to the city could have been $135,238.80.
The benefits had long been offered to the mayor, to city council, to the controller and to the solicitor, all part-time positions. It was viewed as an incentive to serve and likely was far less expensive years ago before health care costs exploded. The offer was eliminated for 2014 in council's effort to balance the new budget, which in its earliest version had a deficit of more than $616,000.
Councilman R. Craig Rhoades and solicitor H. Robert Mattis were each enrolled in the family major medical, dental and vision plans at combined annual premium costs to the city of $23,131.20 each.
Councilmen William Milbrand, the mayor-elect, and William Strausser each received the same benefits under single coverage at a cost of $9,821.40 each.
Copayments for the major medical cost each official $100 monthly.
Neither Mayor George Rozinskie Jr., Councilman Michael Snyder nor Controller Gary Haddock were enrolled for major medical. All three received family coverage for dental and vision at a cost of $960.12 each. There is no copayment for vision coverage. It's not clear if one exists for the dental coverage.
The costs were derived from a single health insurance invoice provided by the city showing all city employees and officials enrolled in full or in part, a response to a Right To Know request submitted by The News-Item. Information was also received by phone regarding vision coverage.
The invoice was submitted by The Benecon Group on July 1 as part of the city's enrollment in the Pennsylvania Municipal Health Insurance Cooperative, through which it was covered by Capital BlueCross. The city missed two payments in September and October totaling $102,240.44, causing Benecon to remove Shamokin from PMHIC. An additional $67,000 is sought by Benecon from the city since the contract was terminated early.
Thirty-eight people were enrolled in the city's health benefits plans, either in part or in full, costing the city $51,120.22 a month and an estimated $613,442.64 for the entire year, had its relationship with Benecon lasted that long.
The city has since sought another broker to provide insurance through Capital BlueCross at a similar cost, although the city is responsible to make up the difference for employee deductibles accrued through 2013.
Benefits cost information had been sought by county Commissioner Vinny Clausi and later county Commissioner Stephen Bridy, the latter having successfully appealed the city's initial denial both to the state and the Court of Common Pleas. However, Bridy is not satisfied with the city's response, believed similar to what was provided to The News-Item, calling it "inadequate" in a Letter to the Editor published Saturday.
"The data that was provided is incomplete, consisting of five months of statements to cover 2006 through 2013," Bridy wrote about the eight years of information he had sought. The News-Item seeks that information as well, and the city had asked for an additional 30 days to meet the request.