County Employee Healthcare Costs Projected to Rise 5.4%

As County Supervisors await a formal request for a two-percent wage hike for Clarke County Public School employees, which if approved will almost certainly result in a similar increase for County government staff, the Clarke County Joint Administrative Services committee recommended approval of a 5.4% budget increase for County employee health care costs. The recommendation now goes forward to the both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board for further consideration.

While both the County and the employee will share a portion of the benefits cost increase, if approved, the majority of the cost increase will be covered by the County. By covering the majority of the rising cost of health benefits, the County is in effect providing an across the board compensation increase for County employees who participate in the County-sponsored health care plan.

“It’s certainly a compensation increase for County employees” said Joint Administrative Services director Tom Judge. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Leslie Tucker, a health insurance specialist with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, said that the 5.4% increase was approximately half of the 11% increase that her commercial clients are seeing and less than the 21% increase that the County would have experienced had it not opted to join Anthem’s “Local Choice” plan which pools Clarke County’s costs with approximately 31 other jurisdictions.

“When the Local Choice contingency reserve funding pool reaches a certain level the funds are redistributed in order to benefit the members” Tucker said. “In this case, Local Choice has opted to use $415K in contingency reserve funds against future claims to offset current increases in member insurance costs.”

Tucker said that the 31 jurisdictions that participate in Anthem’s Local Choice program include school districts, local governments and various governmental authorities.

Clarke County offers insurance to its full time employees provided that the employee works a minimum of 30 hours per week. CCPS superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy said that while many of the division’s school bus drivers opt to use the County insurance program, participation is less among food service staff.

“For many of the bus drivers the pay simply offsets the insurance cost” Murphy said. “They are effectively working just for their insurance coverage.”

During the discussion with Tucker, Clarke County Supervisor chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) questioned why the plan’s $141K Projected Dental Capitation rate, the amount paid by Local Choice members to use the dental services network, was equal to the $141K amount paid for the plan’s Projected Medical Administrative Charges.

“That doesn’t make sense to me” Hobert said.

JAS director Tom Judge made a similar inquiry about the $605K Projected Drug Capitation charge which is nearly six times that of the Projected Medical Administrative Charges.

“It seems like either the drug fee is too high or the administrative fee is too low” Judge remarked.

Anthem’s Tucker pledged to get back to the JAS committee with a fuller explanation of the charges in question.

The JAS committee, which includes Hobert, Judge, Murphy as well as County Administrator David Ash, County Treasurer Sharon Keeler and School Board Member Chip Schutte (White Post) voted unanimously to forward a recommended approval to both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors.

View Clarke County’s Healthcare Budget and Rates here:

Clarke County FY13 Monthly Health Benefit Rates

Clarke County FY13 Health Benefit Costs

 

Comments

  1. Wait! I thought Obamacare was supposed to take care of all of this?
    You mean……………you mean they LIED!?!?!?!!?!

    http://blog.heritage.org/2011/05/26/new-study-shows-higher-health-care-costs-under-obamacare/

    Just want to remind everyone there’s an election coming up this fall

  2. Yes, FREE healthcare to all. Gasoline will cost $5.00/gallon, but we won’t be able to afford to drive to the doctor to get that free healthcare. And you really had to be naive to think that Obamacare was going to lower the cost of anything related to healthcare, or increase the quality of it.
    The average time for a new patient to see a doctor in Massachusetts is almost 100 days, since Romneycare went in . You cant make this stuff up.

  3. Roscoe Evans says:

    Since you’re yucking it up about politics, I don’t mind a little exageration, hyperbole, or out and out nonsense, gents. But not phoney facts that are calculated to deceive.

    The average time for a new family in Massachusetts to get an appointment is 35 days. My non-partisan source: http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2011/05/massachusetts_doctors_appointments_too_hard_to_come_by.html

    Yes, you can make your “stuff” up. And, it seems, you do. But your credibility suffers.

  4. Then explain why it is actually lower than originally anticipated? While you’re at it, explain why…some 5 years BEFORE Obama was elected, premiums got jacked up by a significant double-digit % for 2 or 3 straight years.

  5. Why are we (local citizens) paying, at a minimum, 85% of the employees healthcare costs AND funding their retirement account?? This is precisely why so many localities across the country are on the verge of bankruptcy or are severely upside down financially, just like the state of VA with the VRS.

    The VRS currently has unfunded liabilities to the tune of $19.9 billion…it is ridiculous and offensive that we the citizens are funding the complete retirement for teachers. WE assume all the risk and they receive a GUARANTEED payout…come on people wake up.

    The proposed school division budget has increased retirement funding of approx. $700k…there is your raise!

    The employee (teacher/administrators) should be funding their own retirement, they should be the recipient of any investment gains and they should likewise bear the responsibility of any loss.

    • Right Winger says:

      Because they are county employees, the citizens of the county pay them through taxes. As teaching has been a historically lower paying job, the gov’t has to have some sort of incentive for people to teach. That’s why localities fund most of the healthcare costs and retirement benefits. It’s the same at the National Level. Taxes are a necessary evil. I’d 100% support a tax increase to pay our local teachers a bit more.

  6. Per the VRS, teachers and other public employees earn – upon retirement – 54% of the average of their 3 highest consecutive years’ salaries. Let’s look here in CCPS:

    Assuming they follow the same rules as other divisions, a veteran teacher, with a Master’s degree and 36+ years teaching, makes $64,144 ($57,894 w/just a Bachelor’s degree). This is the amount reported to VRS, and does NOT include any supplemental stipends for coaching, or sponsoring a club, or being dept. chair, or whatever. Now…since CCPS salaries have been frozen for 4 years, the 3-year avg. is easy to calculate.

    $64,144 x .54 = $34,637.76 (BA/BS: $57,894 x .54 = $31,262.76)

    So, it’s not like Congress (with full 100% “retirement” even if they only serve a term or two) or other places. Teachers don’t live high on the hog in retirement; likewise, unlike a manufacturer that can gradually increase prices to cover costs, or an independent pofessional and increase his/her billable hours rate a notch or two.

    My wife goes to her school every day, not for the pay and not for personal glory, but because she loves her students. However, she’s every bit a professional like a lawyer or a doctor or a CPA or a pharmacist. So, too, is my neighbor who drives a school bus. To me, it’s about making the right investment in what’s important…and I personally think that the education of our kids and a quality level of services in this county are a tad more important than a park down by the river or socking money away in the undesignated fund balance.

  7. In October 2006, I was sick with a gall bladder issue that required surgery. I went to the surgeon to schedule said surgery after 2 visits to the emergency room where they stabilized me and sent me home. Because the Doctor was so busy, I was not able to schedule the surgery until December 10, 2006. They told me that I would need to eat a very bland diet until then. On October 30, I had to go back to the emergency room because my gall bladder expelled 2 stones that blocked my bile duct, giving me jaundice. At that point they decided that maybe I needed to stay in the hospital, but now instead of having one surgery, I ended up having to have the gall stones removed from the bile duct on the 31st, and then the gall bladder on November 1. Four hours after my gall bladder was removed I was sent home to recover. Obamacare wasn’t in place then and I didn’t have any better luck getting an appointment with a surgeon….