Medical insurance renewal and changes in insurance plans were discussed at length Monday during the Loudon Utilities Board workshop meeting.

The board previously requested Trinity Advisors representatives attend the workshop to provide more information on plan renewals and other adjustment options to lower costs. The board has been using the same basic plan, with only one change, for 30 years.

Trinity suggested the board raise the deductible to $750, make families pay $50 per person per month and/or change the outpatient coverage to 80 percent, saving the city about $116,000 in total costs if all three options are implemented.

Ty Ross, LUB manager, said he recommended changing outpatient coverage to 80 percent, which could save the city about $40,000.

Ross used a ketchup bottle as a metaphor for using the fund.

“There is a misperception out there that when we go and use our Humana card that insurance is taking care of it. This is just a claims processor. This is just a paper pusher,” Ross said. “They charge an administrative fee for that per head. This ketchup bottle represents a bank account. It is a health savings account. It’s a real fund. And every time we seek medical care for any provider and process a claim with Humana, the bill is sent here and the money is taken out of the ketchup bottle. It’s part of my responsibility to see that there’s adequate ketchup inside the bottle. Every time we use it, ketchup is removed. And it costs money to fill the ketchup back up.”

The city’s reserve for insurance has dramatically decreased in recent years. By the end of June, “approximately $130,000” will remain in the fund that used to be kept at a threshold of $1 million.

“As you all well know, back several years ago, we always try to keep a million dollars or more, most of the time it was more way back, in the reserve,” Don Campbell, LUB chairman, said.

The reserve has steadily decreased in the last four or five years, he said.

“And if you can remember way back when, you know we even told you then that we would never go up on your insurance in any way, shape or form as long as we can maintain that million dollars in that reserve. And we held to that. We stayed with that,” Campbell said. “Even to the point where we got below the million dollars.”

Campbell asked if the board could extend the deadline for renewal past March 1.

“It takes more homework, it takes more time. I understand that,” he said. “… Before this takes into effect, we’ve done everything we can do to ensure that this is the best we can do.”

The board is required to give a 30-day notice regarding changes to anyone on the plan.