City healthcare proposal concerns many current, former employees - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

City healthcare proposal concerns many current, former employees

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

There's no way around it -- healthcare is expensive. But some current and retired city employees in Columbia are worried what they pay could skyrocket.

Meet Thomas Dodson and Chris Butzer, two former Columbia Police Officers who still receive city healthcare. They've had to pay more over the years than when they started, but now they're afraid they could be paying too much.

"That creates a concern for people like myself who are already retired," said Butzer.

"For those who are less fortunate than I am that don't have a second career on track, those who are city employed or were city employed that are retired, they can't afford it," said Dodson.

Where is their cause for concern coming from? A memo given to WIS and several city retirees from a city insider documents a proposal to city council for new health plan changes beginning in January 2015.

"Obviously it's going to come down to cost and benefits," said Butzer.

In the proposal are four alternative plans for retirees, including an option that would move all pre-Medicare retirees to the federal health insurance marketplace.

"That coverage would be more on the tune of a thousand percent for me," said Dodson.

And, according to Dodson and other former city employees, the worst part for them is the lack of response they've gotten from the city.

"Not a lot of information has been put out about that," said Butzer. 

We got in touch with city human resources director Pam Benjamin who said she's received no calls from retirees about the proposed plan and said the emphasis needs to be on the fact that it's merely a proposal and not a final decision.

Benjamin says these proposals are in part a response to changes in cost from the Affordable Care Act, but none of the proposals have been officially brought to council yet.

Benjamin went on to say the city wouldn't make a decision without bringing retired employees to the table to discuss it, which, according to Butzer, is something he'd like to see.

"Communication on the part of employees, the community, retirees and city council, everybody needs to come together," said Butzer.

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