Retired Omaha City Employees Could Pay More for Health Insurance

Omaha, NE – Retired Omaha city employees can expect to pay more for their health insurance beginning this summer.

City officials announced Tuesday that all retirees will pay a share of their health insurance costs starting July 1. Right now, 84 percent of retired city employees don't pay health insurance premiums. The ones who do pay between $30 and $80 a month. Health care claims from retirees have increased 303 percent in the past nine years.

Ron Gerard, spokesman for Mayor Jim Suttle, says the change is necessary because of the city's budget deficit.

"We need to make some very tough decisions right now in order to get that budget back in balance, not only for this year with the ten million dollar deficit we're forecasting for the rest of 2010 but also the years that follow as well," he says.

Pending city council approval, retirees will pay 25 percent for a single plan, 30 percent for single plus one, or 35 percent of the cost for a family. The city will pick up the rest of the cost. Omaha's human resources department also plans to reduce the number of retiree health care plans from 34 to three.

City officials estimate the change in premiums and consolidation of plans will save $6.75 million.