Councilman Smith

replies to peers

This is a reply to the letter from five of my fellow Tupelo City Council members in the Oct. 10 Forum.

n What is the actual amount of the reserve? We have heard $150,000, $500,000 and now $600,000. Typically speaking, reserves are held for a two to three month period, most commonly to cover run out in the event the group leaves the current carrier.

The recent 19-month claims period was $1,231,099, which averages out monthly to $64,795. Most standard reserve programs require two to three months claims reserves (max with city's experience would be $194,385).

This would make a difference of $405,615 and typically carriers would refund portions of the excess reserve.

Because of excess reserve, why couldn't Trustmark hold the current rates instead of increasing rates 17 percent and exposing employees to increased financial liability by lowering benefits.

The renewal with Trustmark for the city was April 1, 2001. At this time rates were increased to $296 for an employee only contract and this did not include the Light & Water Department. The L&W group did not add to the city's plan until Oct. 1, 2001. At that point in time, there was no adjustment applied to the $296 rate.

How many years are the Trustmark rates guaranteed for? The Blue Cross-Blue Shield quoted as the city's bid requested.

The Blue Cross-Blue Shield bid did not warn that rates would increase 18 percent to 20 percent. The quote provided by the Blue Cross-Blue Shield was prepared with information provided by Trustmark. If the basis of this information was complete and accurate, future premium requirements would be based on the utilization pattern of the city's employees. The Blue Cross-Blue Shield bases its rates on a mature level as opposed to the implied immature level as stated in the letter.

One way the Blue Cross-Blue Shield provides rates stabilization is by pooling large catastrophic claims. This is done by removing individual claims in excess of $115,000 from the experience used to calculate the renewal.

While it is true that health insurance was not designed to cover all of health care costs, the city's employees cannot be protected against serious financial loss for catastrophic illness or injury if they cannot afford to cover dependents.

While there are a few plans with $1,000 deductible, North Mississippi Medical Center currently offers a $100 deductible for its employees.

Perry Smith

Councilman, Ward 6

Tupelo

Caste system cited

without reason

I found the Oct. 8 Local Lines column by Fred Brewer somewhat confusing (A Lie ...).

He describes the lies we live here in America appropriately, then suddenly switches to India's "untouchables." I don't get the connection between the two aspects. India's caste (not cast) system was implemented thousands of years ago based on cultural economics. It is NOT to be confused with slavery.

It is incorrect to allude to the caste system as "living a lie." How does one change a surname? In India, surnames reflect a person's caste, region and in some cases, the very township he or she comes from. Therefore, even though the caste system is officially banned, a surname tells all.

India's vast population results in a high level of illiteracy which can only be overcome by education. "Untouchables" officially known as Dalits are being encouraged to equal opportunities with systems in place especially for them. Many are now in the ranks of the wealthy. Others may be here running the gigantic engines of America's IT industry.

The complexities of the caste system must be understood clearly, Mr. Brewer, before you equate it with lies and infidels.

Lastly, someone should point out to Pamela Anderson of the Washington Post that India's Foreign Minister is Jaswant Singh, not Omar Abdullah.

Ravi Modak

Tupelo

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