Retired city employees uneasy about health insurance
About three weeks ago, city council members voted to switch health insurance providers, but city of Chattanooga retirees say they weren't given any notice before the vote.
Chattanooga City Council members are scrambling to fix a major mix-up with insurance for the city's retirees. About three weeks ago, the council voted to switch providers and enter into an agreement with United Healthcare.
But retirees say they weren't given any notice before the vote.
It's not clear how many retirees have insurance through the city, but at least 15 retired Chattanooga police officers were at Tuesday's city council meeting. Janice Atkinson was among them. She says she found out the city was switching providers through Facebook. She says the HR department told her, her coverage would stay the same.
“They said that we would not lose any of our doctors any of our providers that we would have access to everything nothing changed but that's not the case,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson retired from the police department in 2006. She has a heart condition and gets treatment at the Chattanooga Heart Institute.
“I called the Chattanooga Heart Institute and told them I was going from Blue Cross to United Healthcare and was told quite emphatically that they do not accept United Healthcare.”
More than a dozen retirees had a similar experience. City council members voted to switch insurance providers on November 14. According to the minutes, Human Resources Director Tina Camba said that "this was the best move." She also described “the ways HR will communicate the new health plan to current retirees.”
“There was never an intention to hold out anything but what was offered to us and the vote of the committee was based upon that presentation and the determination that that was the best plan,” said Camba. “United healthcare held out to us that there would be no changes to the providers.”
Several council members say the information provided to them was misleading.
“I wouldn't have voted on anything knowing that we would displace anyone or to know that that would impact you guys' lives in that matter,” said Councilman Anthony Byrd.
“We want to get to the bottom of this legally I want to make sure that we're not stuck in some fraudulent contract,” said Councilwoman Carol Berz.
The contract with United Healthcare would start January 1st. However, the council agreed not to sign until they get more answers. They will discuss it next Tuesday during their Strategic planning meeting. Camba and several other retirees plan to be there.