City employees circulate petition against insurance hike

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, October 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The city of Augusta is looking to rework its contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, it's health care provider. But that could leave workers shelling out big bucks.

"Oh, I was sick to my stomach," says Cindy Washington. Cindy says she was shocked after learning she might have to pay more at her next doctor's visit because the city is planning to renew its contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield at a higher rate.

Cindy questions, "How can we actually afford to pay this high high insurance rate? It's unfair due to the fact that there are so many people out here, and based on our salaries it really will cause a tremendous financial burden."

This impacts 6,500 employees. Co-pays would increase from $30 to $50. Visits to a specialist would increase from $50 to $80. And visits to the emergency room would increase from $200 to $300. These are all numbers employees say they just can't afford.

Cheryl Barnes says, "I'm a mother of seven children. Trying to go to the doctor and get prescriptions or anything like that, it would take my whole paycheck."

It's that scary reality that has people like Cheryl filing a petition, which at time of writing had over 300 signatures.

Cheryl says, "I'm not asking them to re-do everything. I'm just asking them to look and see if they can't help us in some way."

City Administrator Fred Russell says, "It becomes a philosophical question at this point...who has to pay? Bottom line, the best deal that we think we can get is with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We've explored other options and this is a good deal."

But some city leaders say there is better. Commissioner Joe Bowles says, "They are our employees and they work very hard, and we need to make sure we take care of them, and I think we can manage to get the co-pays down."

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  • by RC Augusta worker Location: Augusta on Oct 4, 2007 at 12:16 PM
    It would be cheaper for the City government and the Insurance CO to provide affordable healthcare to avoid paying more later if we can't afford to go the doctors for routine vists to maintain our health and we end up in the hospital HELLO!
  • by Judy Location: Augusta on Oct 4, 2007 at 12:11 PM
    This situation is getting out of hand! The big wigs that run the government are lining their pockets and taking expensive trips on our dime! but they can't afford to pay a decent wage to the rest of us that are doing the work and making them look good. I hope I stay in good health because I won't be able to go the doctor! I am thinking of just going on welfare and let the government take care of me!!!
  • by Augusta on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:33 AM
    Well Ron, We haven't had a raise in 5 years and then when we finally get one it's taken away because of insurance increases (3 times in five years)!!!!! I'm not getting ahead I getting closer to the welfare line. I can't stay above water because the cost of living is sky rocketing higher than what I'm paid. Yes I feel we deserve better health care!!!!!
  • by ron Location: augusta on Oct 4, 2007 at 08:32 AM
    I worked for a manufacturing company that helped pay for our medical insurance, but it was adjusted higher each year. I paid over $100. per month for my family. The county employees should be happy the county is paying as much as they are. As far as the lady on TV claiming to have 7-8 kids, no one made you have that many kids!!
  • by disgruntled Location: augusta on Oct 4, 2007 at 06:38 AM
    It is appalling to me and an outrage that county employees will once again be forced to bear the burden of health care at unreasonably high rates. I fail to understand why my tax can be used to insure state employees have affordable insurance but I cannot get affordable health insurance. Most of the jobs with the county are low paying jobs not everyone makes more than $100,000.00 a year like the administrator who is recommending the changes. This is the second largest city in the state and it cannot afford reasonable insurance for its employee? Who is this re-working a good deal for? Why is it that private companies with fewer employees can afford better cheaper insurance for their employees? I do not think disregarding employees to save money to spend on doing studies is a good deal for anyone. Why is it the administration always explores options in secret and then tries to tell the employees and the public this is a good deal. This good deal should be stopped.
  • by Stan Location: Aiken on Oct 4, 2007 at 05:11 AM
    I worked in the manufacturing industry for over 40 years and my health care costs were adjusted each year, and increased all but a few years. I don't really understand what Augusta city workers are complaining about. Had better be thankful they work for someone who offers health care. Apparantly they are not aware of the workplace outside the city of Augusta.
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