Major differences emerged today as the City and the San Antonio Police Officers Association ex changed proposals about health benefits.  The City contends that the benefits paid to the police are too rich, and threaten to swamp the city budget, a charge that SAPOA negotiator Ron DeLord rejects.


  Tiffany Parker, a vice president of the insurance benefits consulting firm MHBT and the city's benefits consultant, told the negotiators that benefits negotiated by the SAPOA in the 1970s and 1980s, which leave police with zero deductibles and minimum co-payments for their insurance are fast outpacing health care costs for the city's civilian employees, who do not bargain collectively.


  "The police per employee costs are about $1200, and the civilian per employee costs are about $600,” Harris said.  “So we have about a two times spread between those two different plans.”


  Harris said a major problem with the police plan is, since officers pay little or nothing for their benefits, they have no incentives to save money, unlike civilian workers who ‘pay the first dollar,’ and, like private sector employees, have insurance that kicks in after huge deductibles are met.


  “Consumer driving health plans really encourage members to make better decisions regarding their health.”


  Harris also presented statistics showing police officers adding far more dependents onto their plans due to liberal rules about who can classify as a dependent.


  The average police officer has 2.3 dependents, compared with 1.2 dependents per civilian employee.


  DeLord said that might me due to the fact that police officers have a tendency to be younger than the average city civilian worker, but Harris pointed out that police in Dallas, Houston, and other cities average 1.1 dependents per employee.


  “Children on the police plans represent a 63% greater cost to the City than Children on the Civilians plans,” Harris said.


  The city is proposing moving the police and firefighters to the civilian health insurance system, which Harris said would result in an estimated $11 million a year savings to taxpayers.


  The San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association has yet to agree to bargain on the future of their health plan.