Ethics or economics.
That was the decision Covington's Finance and Administration committee had to make this week as one health insurance company undercut another – and by a significant amount – after a plan for municipal employees had already been approved.
“You have to look at both sides of the coin,” said alderman Tommy Black, providing the argument for ethical actions or a large savings for the city. “That's a lot of money we need for the City of Covington.”
After the board accepted a $715,880 bid from Aetna/Coventry last month, Blue Cross Blue Shield submitted a subsequent bid at $602,022, a $113,859 difference.
Last week, the mayor brought the bid to the committee for consideration, stating that the large difference urged him share it. Alderwoman Minnie Bommer was the first to argue that it was unethical and unfair for the board to go back on its word and accept a different bid.
“I certainly want to save the city money,” said alderwoman Minnie Bommer, “but they should have given us a better bid up front or waited until next year.”
Alderman Jere Hadley questioned the bid as well.
“I don't know why they didn't put their best foot forward to begin with,” he said. “They didn't get lower rates overnight.”
Another of Bommer and the committee's concerns was supporting the local hospital.
Under the BCBS plan, employees would save on premiums when compared to the Aetna plan, but would have to use Methodist hospitals instead of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Tipton.
A survey showed employees were 98-7 in favor of lower rates, even if it meant traveling to Memphis for care, but city leaders were adamantly in favor of continuing to use the local hospital and sticking with their original plan.
Bommer said ethics trumped the savings. The committee agreed, deciding to end the discussion.
“This coming back after the fact … (the cost) looks good, but it doesn't really smell good,” Bommer said.
The Finance and Administration committee also voted to end the city’s disability coverage Tuesday, the mayor suggesting the city wasn’t getting its money’s worth from premiums.
Mayor David Gordon said the city is paying $3,500 per month for coverage and the payout is $100-300 per month per employee.
Currently, there are only four employees receiving disability through this coverage plan.
The city does carry insurance that will compensate an employee injured while working and a disability settlement can be received if needed.