FARGO — Fargo City Commissioner John Strand has asked the city to consider adding contraceptive coverage to its employee health insurance plan.
Fargo’s “grandfathered” health insurance plan allows the city to circumvent the federal requirement to cover contraceptives.
At the city commission meeting on Monday, July 11, Strand said he hoped to be able to weigh the pros and cons and get a sense of the feasibility of adding coverage to the city’s health insurance plan.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s knockdown of Roe v. Wade, I think we’re obligated to know what the implications are for our workforce,” Strand said.
“Are there gaps in the services that will come to families? …Is there a desire to have contraceptive coverage?” He asked. “I want the public to know that we care about these issues.”
Human Resources Director Jill Minette said the city’s health insurance is offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. The grandfathered plan adopted in 2018 was modeled on the public employee pension system plan and does not include contraceptive coverage, she said.
The plan is reviewed annually, Minette said, noting that city employees have asked about oral contraceptive coverage in the past.
Looking at options to increase contraceptive and other coverage over the past few years, she said, the city found that would mean a 10% increase in premiums, on top of what has been an increase of about 15% in recent years.
“It really becomes a question of what the city budget can support and what individual employees who are enrolled in our health insurance can support,” she said.
Minette noted that there are additional benefits when upgrading to a higher coverage plan, such as increased preventative care and other perks.
Commissioner Arlette Preston asked former Blue Cross Blue Shield Commissioner Denise Kolpack if she was aware of any studies comparing the cost of unintended pregnancy to contraceptive coverage.
Kolpack said she had not seen such a study.
Increasing employee benefits can have unintended consequences, she added, such as losing the grandfathered status of the city plan.
Health insurance is “one of the biggest expenses that citizens pay under the general budget,” Kolpack noted.
Minette said early estimates of 2023 premiums would likely be available in August or September, and the city could consider options then. No action was taken at Monday’s meeting.