CHARLOTTE -- The weekly cost of health insurance for some Charlotte city employees will go up nearly 50 percent.
“For the first time, I will not be able to afford the best care for my family and my children,” Captain with the Charlotte Fire Department Timothy Bell says.
The City of Charlotte is changing its benefits package for city employees. Secretary for the Charlotte Firefighters Association says it isn't benefiting anyone.
“The people that are getting paid on the lower end are just going without coverage and opting out to take the penalty under the Obamacare Act,” Bell says. “And not get coverage through the city because it costs too much."
Employees last year could enroll in a “basic” or “plus” plan. The plus plan, to cover an employee and their family, costs about $175 a week.
The city now has 5 coverage options. The cheapest costs $80 a week with a health savings account. The most comprehensive family coverage costing roughly $260 a week. A nearly 48.5 percent markup for the best coverage plans.
Bell says it's more money for less coverage.
“Deductibles have gone up, co-insurance has gone up, out of pocket has gone up,” Bell says. “Everything across the board has gone up."
Cathy Graham, principal benefits advisor for The Employers Association, says a typical increase on insurance rates is about 6 percent.
“I've not seen many double-digit increases lately,” Graham says.
Since 2010, city employees have seen a 118 percent increase in the weekly cost of health insurance.
BelL says despite raises, he'll make less next year than he did 7 years ago because of the weekly costs.
Plus, it's the same for other city positions.
“For a Charlotte storm water person, [salaries] from 2015 to 2018, it's almost $3,000 less a year,” Bell says.
The Charlotte Firefighters Association says the city hasn't explained why there's been such a dramatic increase in cost.
The group is considering joining other city employee groups to negotiate health insurance options separate from the city
“I think everybody wants to do what's best for their kids and everybody wants to do what's best for their family,” Bell says. “And that's not possible at this time."
Employees say the city still hasn't said why it's raising rates.
Enrollment for city employees starts Monday, October 30th.
The city says no one was available to comment on this story.