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Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Council agrees with Administration — ratifies insurance plan

Council agrees with Administration — ratifies insurance plan

In a unanimous move by the Lafourche Council, the parish and its employees will benefit from thousands of dollars in savings in 2019 through the selection of a new insurance provider.

Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle’s proposal to use coverage by Anthony J. Alford Insurance Corporation over longtime insurer Arthur J. Gallagher Benefit Services of Thibodaux was approved by affirmative vote of all nine council members at a Monday, November 12 special public meeting,

Although Byron Landry and Buddy Ledet of Gallagher spoke on behalf of their company’s quote for 2019, it was clearly the Alford plan with its lower premiums and savings for the parish that drove the unanimous vote.

Gallagher has been the parish’s insurer for 18 years, during the Gerald Breaux and Charlotte Randolph eras and the first two years of Cantrelle’s administration.

With a possible $769,000 in cost savings under the Alford plan, Cantrelle’s administration says there will be enough money available to fulfill a promised 2% cost of living raise for all parish employees next year.

Prospective insurers were asked to quote on both a comprehensive plan that closely matched the present coverage as well as a higher deductible plan with combined “gap” insurance coverage.

Gap insurance is designed to cover higher than expected out of pocket costs which result from emergency situations.

A small additional monthly premium for gap as opposed to a huge medical bill during a sudden medical event makes gap insurance an attractive choice for employees who have seen their costs skyrocket.

Alford’s plan included higher deductibles and higher out of pocket costs, but also gap coverage to offset the possibility of large medical bills.

Gallagher did not want to quote a gap plan. Their standard proposal would have saved the parish $500,000.

“There may be a time when gap coverage is widely utilized in our area, but the fact that it is not prevalently here yet is concerning. If ya’ll feel that combining $5000 United Health Care plan with gap insurance is the way to go, then certainly you can vote for Alford’s plan tonight. We’re not gonna do gap plan. We’re not gonna do it,” said Buddy Ledet in defense of his company’s quote.

Cantrelle said the gap plan will lower the number of claims that the provider will have to process.

“We want to get the number of claims down to about 75%. Right now I think we’re at 85%. It’s very, very important to not only save money for our employees, but reduce the claims that the insurance company would see,” he said.

When asked by Council Chairperson Luci Sposito why Gallagher was “fired” as broker and another broker chosen from outside Lafourche parish, Interim Administrator Brent Abadie said this year’s plan was a break from other years.

“This year was done completely independent of anything that was done before. This was completely objective and had nothing to do with where any of the brokers came from,” said Abadie.

The plan includes health, vision, dental, prescription medication and several supplemental coverages and will take effect on January 1, 2019 and run for 1 year.