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City sees 3% increase in group health rates

The Batesville City Board learned this month the premiums for the group health insurance that covers employees and officials will increase three percent, far less than City Hall expected after the Covid-19 pandemic upended the national health care system.

Local agent Brad Clark gave the mayor and board of aldermen his yearly update and assessment of the city’s insurance coverage for employees, which included health, dental, vision, and life.

The City of Batesville pays $452 a month for 129 employees and elected officials for the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Mississippi coverage, administered locally by Clark Insurance Company. Last year’s rate was $439 per employee. Many also purchase additional coverage for their families, and those premiums are collected through normal paycheck withholdings.

Clark told the board he tracked the insurance market closely throughout the pandemic, and six months ago was expecting to come before the board with a seven percent increase.

“Thankfully that is down to three percent now,” Clark said. “Like everybody else I had a lot of concerns about where premiums would be following this pandemic, but as it turns out, it’s not too bad.”

The increase will be realized by a monetary increase of $26,500 for the year from city coffers. The city’s loss ratio was average for the industry, he said.

Clark also noted that despite the three percent increase, monthly premiums for city employees are still less than five years ago before the board took measures to reduce its insurance burden by adding wellness programs and health checkups to the services available to those under its coverage umbrella.