— The Merced County Board of Supervisors recently
approved changes to health care plans of retirees over
age 65, a move they say will save the county $1 million
changes, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, include switching
from a group plan where everyone had the same benefits
to individual plans.
will now be presented with a menu of options for both
medical and prescription coverage through United Healthcare.Jim
Brown, Merced County executive officer, said the changes
are prompted by several factors: increasing costs of health
insurance, a significant long-term unfunded liability
and a $5 million shortfall in the county's 2013-14 budget.
decision to approve the changes came during the supervisors'
last meeting in June."Our current plan is unsustainable,
and we had to do something to try to reduce costs,"
Brown said. "With the increase in cost of health
insurance, we are looking for ways to work with all of
our retired employees to reduce costs. This was the first
step in achieving that.
county currently contributes $321 toward the over-65 retirees'
$550 monthly premium. The new plan would cap the county's
contribution at $100 to $150, according to county documents.
It would be capped at $100 for future over-65 retirees.Brown
said about 85 percent to 90 percent of retirees will see
lower monthly premiums. "This was one area we were
able to achieve savings in a win-win situation for retirees,"
of retirees over age 65 will also see a savings, Brown
said, because they're 100 percent funded by the retiree.The
proposed changes have been in the works for more than
a year, Brown said, and should reduce the county's long-term
unfunded liability by $70 million over the next 25 years.
some retirees might see a slight increase in out-of-pocket
costs for prescription drugs under the new plan."If
you have more than two medications, you will have an increased
cost in prescription costs," said Chairwoman and
District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey.
it's based on encouraging people to stay well as long
as they can. We're just trying to be progressive and being
able to provide quality health care to our retirees.
are no changes to health care plans of retirees under
age 65, but the county will cap its contribution at $300
to $400, based on years of service.In the current plan,
the county contributes $286 to $376 toward a monthly premium
we won't see any short-term savings right now, there will
be long-term savings because of the cap," Brown said.Dental
plans for all retirees will also be capped, according
to county documents. The county currently pays the entire
premium of $41 per month, but it will be capped at $35
beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
said he worked closely with Merced County's retirement
groups in structuring the new plan, and the feedback from
retirees has been positive.
Clendenin, a member of the Merced County Employees' Retirement
Association board, said the current plan is expensive
both for the county and the retirees.
year, the county was having to put more and more money
into the program," Clendenin said. "It's just
a move the county is wanting to make to save some money,
and trying to do it without drastically reducing benefits
to the retirees.
71, worked in the county's public works department for
40 years, and now serves as chairman of the retirement
association's health committee.
all have to work together to keep the county from spending
too much money on some of these benefits," he said.
sessions will be held soon to discuss the changes in detail,
answer retirees' questions and help with enrollment, Brown