Friday, October 04, 2013
Stoffa: Obamacare a "Complicated Mess" For Northampton County
What all this means is that, unless the County makes changes that will adversely impact employees, it will be subject to a $934,000 estimated tax in 2018. By 2028, that tax will grow to $28 million.
Siementowski told Council that health costs are expected to rise 13% next year, at least partially as a result of Obamacare. As a result of language in eight of the County's 11 union contracts, the County will unilaterally make changes to employee costs to convert the plan from Cadillac to Volkswagon.
The biggest change, according to Siemiontkowski, will be the addition of a 10% co-insurance requirement on County workers.
This may not seem like such a big deal, but will be disastrous to many County employees. One staffer told me of a raise that she recently got as a result of a new union contract. It was all but eaten up by Easton's commuter tax and increases in health insurance contributions.
Siemiontkowski told Council that the County is also considering other options like health savings accounts. Her goal is to get all 11 unions onto one plan.
In response to a question from Lamont McClure, Siemiontkowski stated that the projected 13% hike in health costs next year was dertermined by an actuary, not the County.
"The actuary's been wrong for five years," huffed McClure, noting the County always has money left over. But Bruce Gilbert and Tom Dietrich told McClure that an actuary should include a buffer for a self-insured county so there is money on hand. Siemiontkowski told Council the County pays between $300,000-600,000 every week for health claims. She also indicated most County workers already pay between three to five percent of their salary for health insurance.
"I pay $12,000," bragged McClure for some reason.
Obamacare will also include some positive changes for the County workforce. Caps on preventitive services, chiropractors, mental health treatment and the number of visits allowed will all be eliminated.