Myrtle Beach gives pre-65 retirees 2 main choices for health care

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The city of Myrtle Beach is giving pre-65 retirees two options for health care coverage starting next year.

The retirees were previously told by city leaders they could find better, cheaper coverage in the marketplace and were going to be removed from the city’s health plan. After many in the group of roughly 100 retirees complained that they were being stripped of benefits promised to them by the city, leaders put together two options.

Option A keeps the retirees on their current plans with monthly premiums increasing from $832 to $1,400. Option B would have retirees find coverage in the marketplace and allow them to have access to the city’s health care clinic at a cost of $112 per month. Retirees would choose to forgo both options and find private insurance that fits their needs.

The city said the changes are necessary to avoid raising property taxes or reducing city services to account for more than $800,000 yearly that is needed to keep the pre-65 retirees on the city’s plan.

“The city, at this point, declines to raise property taxes or to otherwise reduce services to make up that $834,000 annual difference between the actual cost and what the city pays for our employees for health insurance,” spokesman Mark Kruea said.

Martin Eells, a retired Myrtle Beach firefighter, addressed council after the city’s presentation showcasing the two options. He said the premium increase in Option A makes it difficult for most retirees to stay on the city’s plan.

“That $1,400 prices us out of insurance,” Eells said. “You wouldn’t have to raise any taxes. There’s a plan C, and I know you support it.”

Eells said a third option should be the city sticking with its original coverage plans.

“There is a C plan, and that’s to take the true total cost, keeping us in the group insurance, and not changing it,” Eells said.

Another pre-65 retiree, Chris Collins, said the city has not communicated well with the group of retirees.

“We had one meeting,” Collins said. “No information was given back to us. I’ve emailed. I finally got a reply back yesterday.”

Collins, a career firefighter, also said the changes would hurt recruitment and retention of city employees–especially police and fire.

The city said these options are not likely to change.

Retirees have until mid-January to sign up if they choose between the coverage options or to find their own insurance plan.

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