Janesville City Council to consider extending health benefits
JANESVILLE The Janesville City Council on Monday will consider extending health plan benefits to employees’ domestic partners.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.
A city memo includes the state’s definition of domestic partners: that each must be at least 18 years old, are not related by blood, are responsible for each other’s living expenses and share a common residence.
The proposal was suggested by council members Sam Liebert and Russ Steeber.
The council in February approved funeral leave for employees with domestic partners but a decision on health benefits was deferred until the new council was seated.
The resolution provides for both same- and opposite-gender domestic partners.
The cost of extending health care benefits is difficult to estimate and could range from less than $31,000 to more than $210,000 in the general fund, said Susan Musick, human resources director.
The general fund is supported by property taxes.
Musick said the cost is difficult to estimate because the number of city and library employees who have domestic partners is not known.
About 78 unmarried employees have single medical plan coverage, but the city doesn’t track the number of single parents with family medical plan coverage who live with a domestic partner.
The cost to the general fund is estimated at $9,915 when an employee changes from single to family medical coverage, plus $633 for dental coverage per employee.
Using the experiences of other public employers with domestic-partner coverage, Musick estimated the cost to the city’s insurance fund would likely be less than 1 percent of medical claims a year. A range of a half percent to 1 percent would be about $35,000 to $70,000 per year, based on claims.
If three general fund employees enrolled their domestic partners, for example, the city’s added cost would be $31,644. If five enrolled their domestic partners, the cost would be $52,740.
Other studies urge caution that adverse selection—that the additional people covered might be higher risk—could be 3 percent of medical claims, or $210,000 per year to the general fund, Musick said.
City Manager Eric Levitt said he has no recommendation on the proposal.
“The city manager views this more as a policy decision than a fiscal decision,” he said. “An employee with a domestic partnership would be treated in the same manner as an employee who had a spouse or a family. Thus, the fiscal impact would be no different than if an employee had family coverage.”
Levitt outlined key points:
-- The experience of other public sector employers indicates the additional cost for domestic-partner benefits is less than 1 percent of their health plan costs.
-- At the same time, there is an unknown and potential risk in extending health care benefits to the domestic partners of employees based on possible “adverse utilization.”
“We believe the criteria to determine eligibility will control any adverse selection,” Levitt said.
-- Most Wisconsin counties and municipalities do not offer domestic partner benefits unless they are part of the state health plan.