Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Dozens of Johnson City retirees spoke against an imminent increase in their insurance and prescription costs late last week.
The village is looking to improve communication among retirees, but their plans don't include changes to the proposed increases.
Village board members said they had a choice: Either increase the cost of insurance and medical care for village retirees or start cutting services for village residents. Johnson City leaders chose the latter.
On Tuesday, the village board elected a committee comprised of two board members, two retirees and people from village unions to act as liaisons among retirees and the board. They'll also be charged with keeping track of insurance for the village.
But the formation of the new committee doesn't change the reality that insurance and prescription fees will increase for retirees who are at least 65 years old.
Mayor Greg Deemie said insurance is changing to the Medicare Advantage Plan because of a nearly $2 million increase, which is in part the result of the government's Affordable Care Act.
Retirees believed their contracts guaranteed them free medical care for life, but Deemie pointed out the contracts specify something different.
"In reality, the contracts say we're supposed to pay the cost of the insurance, which is the premiums, and that's what we do pay," Deemie said.
The possible premiums for the insurance plans will be $12,000 per year for individual coverage and nearly $27,000 to cover an entire family.
Last year, the only out-of-pocket costs for retirees were prescriptions, which were either $2 or $5.
With the new insurance, retirees could pay doctor co-pays and up to $1,250 deductibles. Plus prescriptions would go up to $10, $20 and $40.
"We pay close to $4.5 million a year in insurance as it is, so with this increase it would take it up to $5.8 almost $6 million, you know $6 million in cost for just health insurance alone and in a $17 million budget, that's almost one third of your budget," Deemie said.
Deemie said the village hopes to solidify an insurance plan as soon as possible.