BELLEVILLE — The City Council on Monday voted to approve the third-party administrator for the city's health insurance and life insurance benefit carrier after much debate.
Some aldermen said Mayor Mark Eckert and city staff did not take the recommendation to switch to a new health insurance contractor through proper channels.
"Why didn't this go to Finance (Committee)?" Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden said.
Hayden said aldermen should have received a memo alerting them of increases in insurance claims, the possibility of insurance rates going up and that the city might go out to bid for a new contractor.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult and other aldermen were upset at having to vote on the issue only after learning about it at the meeting.
Aldermen have not seen the bid sheets and do not have all the information to make a decision Monday night, Hult said.
Eckert acknowleged he was asking the council to vote in the "11th hour."
"We could have or should have told you," Eckert said.
But Eckert also said it was common to wait as long as possible so that the city could have the best possible total number of insurance claims for the past year.
The city is self-insured, meaning it pays only the actual cost of claims, and it uses a broker, Warma Witter Kreisler Gregov & Associates, to seek bids for a third-party administrator.
Finance Director Jamie Maitret said the new third-party administrator for health insurance, Insurance Program Managers Group (IPMG), is the same company used by the city's workers' compensation insurance group to process claims.
The benefit to the city is that IPMG can flag potential fraudulent workers' compensation claims if the company also sees employees' health insurance claims, Maitret said.
Last year, the city used Benefit Administrative Systems as the contractor. BAS charged the city $18 per person per month for about 355 participants.
IMPG will charge the city $16.50 per person per month to process claims.
The premiums for employees will go up 1 percent but that increase would have happened because of the higher number of claims last year and regardless of who the contractor is, Maitret said.
Medical claims total about $3.2 to $3.3 million per year, Maitret said.
Hayden, Ward 4 Alderman Tim Carpenter and Ward 7 Alderwoman Lillian Schneider voted no on IPMG as the new contractor.
The City Council then approved Mutual of Omaha as the city's life insurance benefit carrier. Carpenter voted present and Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore abstained.
For life insurance claims, the city had 19 claims last year instead of its usual one or two claims, Maitret said.
Mutual of Omaha's bid came in lower than Standard Life, which the city used last year.
Mutual of Omaha's rate per person is $3.10 per person per month, about $2 lower than Standard Life, Maitret said.
In other news:
* During public participation, Belleville landlord Rick Brown said he sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, asking for federal authorities to investigate "systemic racial discrimination" related to city code enforcement by the Health and Housing Department.
* The City Council unanimously voted to approve a special use permit for St. Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral for a 2.27-acre planned unit development for housing for elderly residents in a gated community.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at email@example.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.