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(December 6, 2019)

After eight years of negotiations with the city employee unions, Mayor Jean Stothert has now achieved the long-term goal of administering a single health insurance plan for all covered city employees.

As of January 1, 2020, all employees, with the exception of rank and file firefighters, will be covered by the City’s preferred high-deductible health plan. The rank and file firefighters (members of IAFF Local 385) administer their own health care plan independent of the City, except for the City’s monthly premium contributions.  

“While serving as chair of the City Council negotiating committee in 2011, I set two long-term goals - to reverse the projected insolvency of the pension funds, and to establish one health care plan for city employees,” said Mayor Stothert.  “We achieved the first goal with unprecedented pension reform during my first term as Mayor.  In my current term, we achieved the second goal. Beginning next month, the City will for the first time in decades, administer only one health care plan.”

In 2018, the Omaha Police Officers Association (OPOA) became the first bargaining unit to move to the high-deductible plan which became the model for the other unions.  Since then, Police Management, the civilian bargaining units (Local 251, CMPTEC, Functionals, AEC), and Fire Management have all ratified contracts that include the high-deductible plan.  The Omaha City Council has already approved the police and civilian agreements and is expected to approve the fire management contract Tuesday.

“Employee health care is one of our most significant expenses,” said Mayor Stothert.  “The single plan we now offer will result in lower premium costs and a savings to our taxpayers.”

Previously, the City administered more than an estimated 30 different health insurance plans for current and retired employees.

The City projects $1.8 million in savings in 2020 as a result of the transition to the new plan, with additional ongoing savings in each subsequent year.

The contracts resulting in the health care transition also include 3% annual wage increases. To protect employees from additional out of pocket costs under the high-deductible plan, the City will also make an annual contribution to each employee’s Health Savings Account (HSA).  The HSA contribution varies depending on the bargaining unit.

The City also provides health insurance to retired employees until they are Medicare eligible at age 65.  Currently, 1,781 retirees are city insured.