Gateway Sun

If someone were to create a list of the GSCDD’s “Greatest Hits” of 2015, right now one of the top three items would be the staff’s self-selected insurance plan.

For those who are unaware: the Gateway Services Community Development District’s day-to-day staff were tasked with selecting a health insurance plan for themselves. They responded to that assignment by chosing one of the best plans publicly available in America knowing in advance that all premiums would be paid by the residents of Gateway – to the tune of $90,000 to $100,000 per year to provide coverage to 10 people.

The new plan takes effect May 1, 2015.

We haven’t been able to confirm it (nor have we really tried) but what we’ve been told is that the staff have had excellent insurance coverage for years completely at the residents’ expense. While we don’t know the details of previous plans, we have the full details of their new plan beginning this Friday. Check out the graphic on our March 21, 2015 article for the plan’s main details.

It’s a great plan, but that’s not the real problem. The problem is that the staff aren’t paying any part of the premium.

While the Board of Supervisors (Gateway’s elected officials) do not receive any of the insurance benefits, they’re just as much to blame here. They had the opportunity to put a stop to all this by simply refusing to approve the funds needed for the plan. Instead, 4-0 vote in favor.

But all is not lost.

An analysis of Human Resources at the GSCDD is currently underway. All wages, benefits, responsibilities and every other element of the staff members’ employment is under review. Sweeping changes could be recommended for the GSCDD.

Whether our Board will act on the recommendations is another question altogether, but could it be possible the Board only voted in favor of the insurance plan ‘for now’ while they waited for the HR review to be completed? The staff was putting pressure on the Board by insisting there was a time crunch to pick a new plan, so could the Board have just went along knowing they could rectify the situation a few months later?

Regardless of what the HR audit turns up, we would like to propose a solution for the health insurance issue.

And it’s a fair, simple solution: phase in a cost sharing of the insurance premium.

Leave everything alone for the rest of 2015 if you have to, but beginning January 1, 2016 the GSCDD staff should pay 10% of the premium.

Then in 2017 increase the staff’s share of the premium to 20%, and add 10% annually until the year 2020 when it would be a 50%-50% cost split between the staff members and the residents for paying the insurance premiums.

Let them keep the “gold plan” but write in a contingency that whatever plan they choose must always include at least a $1,000 deductible and be a publicly available plan.

By not implementing a cost share until 2016 it gives the staff over half a year to prepare for an extra $70-80/month to begin coming out of their checks.

Another important point is that with the staff paying a portion of the costs themselves, next time they have to select an insurance plan they’ll know it’s not a blank check anymore and they’ll be far more responsible with their choice.

(See? We don’t just sit up on a perch and snipe at the GSCDD – we offer solutions! For free!)

Many Gateway residents would prefer an immediate 50/50 split, and we wouldn’t be opposed to it either. But we do understand the potential to wreak havoc on a family’s budget to have that sudden cost share. It’s also possible or even likely that the Supervisors would be highly resistant to an immediate 50/50 split of the health insurance plan premiums.

A balanced approach such as phasing in of the cost share over several years is fair for everyone, especially the residents of Gateway.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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