STRONG — Selectmen on Tuesday continued their search for an affordable health insurance plan for four town employees.

Debbie Bridges, a field sales representative for Maine Municipal Association, explained the health insurance trust options. The town is a member of MMA and paid for a health insurance plan through MMA’s trust three years ago, she said.

No matter which plan the selectmen choose, they should be prepared for an increase of up to 10 percent in 2018, Bridges explained.

The increases are not finalized, she added.

Employees will be required to pay extra for a plan that exceeds the town’s budget allowance, whether selectmen choose MMA’s plan or United Insurance’s Harvard Pilgrim plan, which United Insurance senior account executive Jennifer McCurry offered in June.

The town will pay a monthly premium that covers four employees, and those who want to add family members will pay those extra costs.


Bridges also explained that insurance companies can offer health reimbursement accounts and health savings accounts, but both have their advantages and drawbacks.

A health reimbursement account would allow selectmen to reimburse their employees’ health insurance and medical expenses through a separate account after employees incur expenses. The health savings account option would allow the town to deposit a predetermined contribution that the employee can use to pay for qualified medical expenses.

Bridges stressed that a health savings account must be linked with a qualified high-deductible plan. Once selectmen place the money in the employee’s account, it belongs to the employee.

“If the employee starts work on Jan. 1 and quits on Jan. 2, that money belongs to the employee,” she said.

Selectmen and employees must soon reach a decision on which company and plan they will choose.

Anthem offers three choices to employees, based on their individual needs, Bridges said. A higher-deductible plan means lower monthly payments, but an employee’s injury or unexpected illness means they will pay more out of pocket before the plan kicks in, which is a good option for those in good health and rarely use their plan.

A low-deductible plan may be a better option for employees or family members who have chronic health issues or young children, allowing the employee to reach the deductible limit sooner.

In other matters, selectmen voted to begin a repaving project before the end of the summer at the Forster Memorial Building and will share costs equally between the town and the Forster Memorial Building’s account.

Selectmen also discussed the options to get roadside mowing done. Private contractors are required to have their own liability insurance, and few individuals can afford the cost of that insurance and still make a profit, according to Selectman Mike Pond.

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