SCOTCH PLAINS — The Township of Scotch Plains on is withdrawing from the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and switching to a Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance for municipal employees. The move will save the township $85,000 this year and $114,000 annually, according to Township Manager Al Mirabella.

The Scotch Plains Council approved the switch at a special meeting last week so that the new insurance provider can be in place by April 1. Otherwise, the plan could not take effect until May 1.

Mirabella said that Mayor Al Smith asked him to look for ways to save money on the municipality's health insurance plan. When it joined the state plan, the township realized savings. However, since Scotch Plains had a low "loss rate" (fewer claims than other towns that are pooled together under the state plan), the township had an opportunity to save on costs through a broker, Acrisure, LCC.

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"Since Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield already provides coverage to about 90 percent of the township’s employees, disruption was kept to a minimum," said Mirabella, a longtime executive with Chubb insurance, said in an interview with TAPintoSPF. "Employees who were under Aetna coverage through the state may experience some changes if some of their doctors do not accept Horizon."

In a recent Letter to the Editor, Mayor Smith described the switch as "a win-win for taxpayers," and wrote that he remains" committed to finding more ways to increase efficiency and save taxpayer money in 2018." is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.