Birmingham still struggling to cover insurance for retirees - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Birmingham still struggling to cover insurance for retirees

(Source: WBRC video) (Source: WBRC video)

The Birmingham City Council continues to search for ways to bring down the new cost of health insurance on city retirees.

Retirees such as Michael Bell say they can't not afford to pay over a thousand dollars a month for health insurance.

"My premiums are going up 600 dollars a month and I would no longer have as good as health insurance as I did. I couldn't afford the co-pays the plan they are offering." Bell said.

The Birmingham City Council has been trying to find a way to cut the cost but the money may have to made up somewhere else.

This includes laying off up to 200 workers or to increase insurance cost on current workers by 30 percent. Don Baker, with Fire Fighters Association says both options are unacceptable.

"In the end it looks good on paper but the hidden cost. It's a 90-10 and the deductibles are going to be far more expensive than some of the guys on their fixed incomes can afford." Baker said.

Members of the city's human resources department says the cost for healthcare for retirees have outstripped the money going into the program.

The council has been told there is an almost five million dollar deficit in the program. But, Baker questions the number.

"We found out the four point nine that has been touted as a deficit is actually zero. It was budgeted by the city of Birmingham. We found that is actually zero." Baker said.

Baker says the fire department is still facing a shortage of 67 employees and the current plan only calls for adding 32. This could be cost savings of over a million dollars.

"Once again retirees, representatives of city employees along with city council are all meeting next week to see if they can find any sort of compromise that makes economic sense

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