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Monday, October 06, 2014

Co-Insurance: The Difference Between Lehigh and Northampton County Workers

Of all the changes to health plans being imposed by Executive John Brown, the most controversial is the 10% co-insurance. Let me explain the difference between Lehigh and Northampton County workers. I'll limit it to family coverage.

Lehigh County - The first $6,000 is paid by the employee, and after that, he bears 10% of the cost. But he gets reimbursed by the County for $5,500 of that $6,000.

Northampton County - The first $13,200 is paid by the employee, after which he is responsible for 10% of the cost. There is no reimbursement.

What this meas is that a Northampton County employee making $20,000 per year can be forced to spend most of his salary for a medical procedure.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a review of average pay for positions in Lehigh County compared with the same positions in Northampton County is needed as well. Its my understanding that there is an, approximately, $3 per hour difference across the board.

Yes, it's all about what I think... said...

There are a wide array of differences in Lehigh vs. Northampton County.

One, for all the controversy, Lehigh County is much better run and employees there seem to be valued more.

There once was a HUGE tax increase, which ended up getting partially rolled back a number of years back. Northampton will be doomed to repeat this if they don't wise up, and soon.

Back to health care - what does it say about an employer who doesn't care if s/he bankrupts the employee after one large medical bill?

Yes, it's all about what I think... said...

As to the pay inequities...Norco has forgotten that it was bound to do regular salary surveys, by regulation(s).

Whatever happened to these post 2008 Hay Group study?

NOTHING.

Sounds like, at minimum, a Career Service Regulation violation.

Another fine example of an employer, and his HR department, that just doesn't care, or perhaps just incompetent.

Anonymous said...

"Lehigh County is much better run and employees there seem to be valued more."

You don't know what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time for Council to step up for the worker in NorCo. If they do not, it is time for a class action law suit against they county if wave you say is true that they have been in violation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting that. Unfortuantely John Brown does want the County employee to pay for his or her healthcare to the point you mention. Its called "health care consumerism". People need to practice better consumerism in this new world of austerity and Obamacare. The people in the real world do it everyday. Its a fact of life. There are people in the real world making only twenty grand a year and have to pay the high deductible plus a portion of the medical insurance. While the County employees had a great ride, it is coming to an end. The Lehigh County way of doing things will also come to an end when the county stops paying such a large share of the deductible.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to our world. It sucks.

Sincerely,

The rest of us in the real world

Anonymous said...

employer paid health care is not a right

Anonymous said...

that isn't the real world,paying your entire salary for medical insurance isn't the real world,working for years without a raise isn't the real world either ....the cost of living doesn't stay flat ...sounds to me you wish you had a county job ,,,go apply for one ...there will be plenty available to you to choose from...

Anonymous said...

Misleading. In Lehigh County the employees contribute a percentage of the actual health benefit cost whereas in Northampton County the employees pay a percentage of their salary toward their healthcare. An employee at the lower end of the scale in Northampton County insuring a family contributes a much smaller amount of their salary towards employer provided health insurance.

Anonymous said...

The shame of this is really caused by market conditions. As private companies dropped insurance or increased employee contributions, employees with chronic ailments were forced to relocate to employers who offered insurance at low or no cost. Generally, that was government plans. Now, government is caught catching up with their private counterparts and increasing costs similar to those counterparts. Apparently, non government employees do not have compassion for those footing a greater bill. Government employees will eventually consist of only the most healthy. If you want to survive in the current world: lose weigh, give up smoking, drink moderately and find a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise, you are going to pay and pay and pay.

Anonymous said...

All those NorCo unions and this is the best they got for their membership? It's time to replace your incompetent negotiators with the kind Lehigh Co. uses. They run a much better nursing home, too. NorCo is a mess.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

Sort of defeats the point of medical insurance, no?

But of course the private sector employees accept this type opt treatment like sheep just like they were convinced pensions were "unsustainable" and vacation was cutting into the bottom line.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

Thank you for posting that. Unfortuantely John Brown does want the County employee to pay for his or her healthcare to the point you mention. Its called "health care consumerism". People need to practice better consumerism in this new world of austerity and Obamacare. The people in the real world do it everyday. Its a fact of life. There are people in the real world making only twenty grand a year and have to pay the high deductible plus a portion of the medical insurance. While the County employees had a great ride, it is coming to an end. The Lehigh County way of doing things will also come to an end when the county stops paying such a large share of the deductible.

Yes, there are people in the "real world" that make 20 grand and pay outrageous insurance costs. So the fuck what? Is everyone in public service supposed to make what the worst paid person in the private sector makes?

And by the way, the work these people do couldn't be any more "real world". It may not involve a fryer like your line of work (let's be honest, you get paid $20 grand with shitty benefits at McDonalds, right?) but it does involve people and solving problems.

Anonymous said...

the central scutinizer is sitting back watching this blog and getting paid big bucks to do it !

Anonymous said...

we all have friends,family members and relatives who hold other jobs none of us were born yesterday fyi they have better healthcare then we do!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Welcome to our world. It sucks."

This kind of argument kills me. People in the private sector who have shitty benefits seem to think everyone should have them, Wht not instead start pushing for better benefits? Or do you like being held down by your betters?

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Because I have bad benefits does not mean that you deserve the same. The problem with your approach is that you are looking for sympathy for the low salaried government employee who has to pay more for benefits. I and many more have been living in that world for a long time. I am sorry to say that I just don't have sympathy for their position. If they get more salary and more benefits, bravo! But, when they do, I do not expect any sympathy from them for my situation. There never was any in the past. If you think your columns register a "no" vote from most of the public, think again.

Anonymous said...

it has nothing to do with sympathy and you know it !

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's exactly what I am saying. Your world sucks, so you want everyone's world to suck.

When your boss sees that the government can get away with treating employees like shit, he'll screw you even more. Don't you see the stupidity of your own position?

This is why our middle class is going away.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Because I have bad benefits does not mean that you deserve the same. The problem with your approach is that you are looking for sympathy for the low salaried government employee who has to pay more for benefits. I and many more have been living in that world for a long time. I am sorry to say that I just don't have sympathy for their position. If they get more salary and more benefits, bravo! But, when they do, I do not expect any sympathy from them for my situation. There never was any in the past. If you think your columns register a "no" vote from most of the public, think again.

And yet there are millions of Americans who get great benefits and raises. Just because you have a bad situation doesn't mean these people should share in your misery regardless of the taxes you pay or whether or not you feel you are their boss.

Anonymous said...

these so called bosses change every 4 to 8 years ,for the life of me I can't figure out what john browns agenda is ...to leave the county in worse shape then he found it ? his job is to make it better for all concerned including it's employees.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

His agenda is to lower taxes, period, like all austerity crazed right wing Tea Party faithful. It makes no difference is the workforce is miserable (it's all their fault!) or if the infrastructure is crumbling. HE personally pays less taxes to the "takers" and those of his ilk are equally pleased.

Anonymous said...

how is it there fault ? your county tax being raised won't kill you for gods sake ...sooner or later there going up!

Anonymous said...

Check out this article; under this new system, most teachers will have to pay ten or thirteen percent of the cost of their medical plan. http://www.politicspa.com/src-cancels-contract-with-philly-teachers-union/60861/

Anonymous said...

"This kind of argument kills me. People in the private sector who have shitty benefits seem to think everyone should have them, Wht not instead start pushing for better benefits? Or do you like being held down by your betters?"

You thinks we like it? You think finding a new job is easy in an economy where 93 million don't work and we're about to legalize 20 million central americans? We don't and it's not. I don't begrudge anyone for trying to improve their financial situation. But public employees are attempting to improve theirs on the my shrinking dime and should expect their betters (i.e. taxpayers) to push back.

What is the county employee turnover rate and how does it compare to the private sector? You provided anecdotes, but no facts. I get the feeling many or most of those jobs would be filled quickly if available. So-called shitty WalMart job openings attract thousands of applicants. Pay all employees what the market will bear. Some public employees would likely get considerable raises. Others would get considerable pay cuts. That's life for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Unemployment is at the lowest rate since 2008.

Public employees are not trying to "improve" - they are trying to maintain. And it's telling that you consider yourself their "better". You are an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Bernie your summary of the differences in the 2 counties is not accurate for Northampton County. The Northampton County employee will pay the first $1000(their deductible) and then 10% of every bill there after up to the Obamacare maximum of $13,200/year out of pocket. I work in the Prison and this is the way I understand the changes to be. Please inform me if this is not accurate, thank you

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bernie O'Hare said...

"This kind of argument kills me. People in the private sector who have shitty benefits seem to think everyone should have them, Wht not instead start pushing for better benefits? Or do you like being held down by your betters?"


Why are we even talking about any healthcare benefit? Obama pushed a government healthcare solution on the entire country that was based on the individual getting coverage and not being covered through employer plans. The public sector unions overwhelmingly supported having this crammed down our throats.

So why not just have the county just drop their plan and increase individual pay by a few thousand bucks so that all the employees enroll in ObamaCare? The employees would be covered and the county would see a decrease in their health insurance costs.

Or were the public sector unions just in favor of everyone else having to live with what they wanted?

Yes, it's all about what I think... said...

7:21 - you're right. It is like comparing apples to oranges when you say one pays a percentage of their health care costs vs. paying a percentage of their salary - a fact often conveniently overlooked in the arguments.

I sense, after reading the commentary here, unions will make a comeback in a big way in the private sector. After all, what everyone seems to be saying is that the private sector employees are getting screwed on their benefits.

This all started in a post 9/11 world where employees did not question layoffs and benefit reductions, which became quite frequent. After all, we were fighting terrorism here at home. It would be unpatriotic to complain, right?

Private employers took advantage, and now public employers want the best of both worlds, lower pay AND lower benefits!

We all need to focus on being better health care consumers, but the reductions in benefits here at Norco won't make a difference towards that end, unless postponing big ticket items until they become critical care items is the goal.

There is a lot of work to be done here, and I have little faith in current management, not because they aren't trying, but because they are in way over their heads.

Yes, it's all about what I think... said...

I was remiss in not mentioning OBAMACARE, the biggest cost-shifting scam since group insurance was invented.

Why do you think that the insurance companies didn't complain?

Lower premiums or subsidies mean nothing if your out-of-pocket is huge.

Anonymous said...

When the Hell ahs there been a time in history where an employer would not take as much advantage of an employee as possible. Maybe in a very small owner operated place with a couple people, the atmosphere is more relaxed, sometimes. Generally in any company of medium size or larger you are a line item.

You have been sold on the idea that this is all the fault of some "progressive" agenda. If you get a chance look at the money section of the MC Sunday edition and the relationship of CEO pay to employee pay from most of the world. The US numbers should make you do a spit take. If it does not, we are all doomed to third world status.

Anonymous said...

Obama made the mistake of believing insurance companies wanted the same thing as him. Universally affordable healthcare. He invited them in the early discussions and thought they were genuinely interested. He was deceived. That is on him for being naive.

FDR never involved the corporate royalty in those discussion because he was smart enough to know they would always be looking to enhance their bottom line. In fact because he was from the upper class, he knew that very well. It was his own upper class that used the term "class warfare" to fight against him. They claimed he was a traitor to his own "class". Wake up people and buy a clue.

Sixty minute just has a piece this Sunday on cancer drug costs. A new drug that is not better than old ones was being pushed at $200k a year. A few Oncologists from major cancer centers rebelled and wrote a piece about how doctors and hospitals would et kickbacks for using it. The price dropped immediately.

If you are dumb enough to believe the tycoons that are just new versions of the old ones, you deserve the shitty life you get.

Capitalism like socialism is just another "ism" and has no soul. It is up to you through your government to keep things in line. if you abdicate that, you are a pawn. That is what happened ion the county. People say government candidates are all the same so now they will get the help they deserve.

Anonymous said...

The jobs are available to the general public. There isn't a special pool for public sector work except they took the initiative of going through a more extensive hiring process than Wal-Mart.

Anonymous said...

"The jobs are available to the general public"

But you won't get one unless you have an in. Even if you take the tests they hire who they want.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

12:48 - The ACA was designed for people without health care plans. You sound like you have no idea what you are talking about. Sure, the county could do just as you say - so could ANY entity that employs people. They pay a penalty for doing so. Add that to the "few thousand" you are adding back into paychecks and you break even. I do not work for the county but as long as my employer gave me exactly what they pay for my benefits, I'd be fine with it. I'd buy a plan through the exchange that would meet my needs. It's not very nefarious - you just lack a brain.

Anonymous said...

The LC tax increase was large in percentage terms(not in dollars compared to school and local taxes) and was partially reduced. But, it was the first increase in about 17 years. It is crazy to use reserves and one time items to avoid small tax increases and then have surprise big increases.

Any government entity not having an increase in real estate taxes for years is playing a game.

Government has cost increases that exceed revenue growth over time. This means either have slow growth teal estate tax increases or an occasional big one.

Unless the cost of pensions and healthcare are fixed there will be tax increases.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"But you won't get one unless you have an in. Even if you take the tests they hire who they want. "

This is nonsense. I know mnany people at the courthouse who knew nobody and were hired. There are some patronage jobs, but they are very few and far in between. And those people are not the ones complaining abouit the health plan cuts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie your summary of the differences in the 2 counties is not accurate for Northampton County. The Northampton County employee will pay the first $1000(their deductible) and then 10% of every bill there after up to the Obamacare maximum of $13,200/year out of pocket. I work in the Prison and this is the way I understand the changes to be. Please inform me if this is not accurate, thank you"

I will check. I could have it wrong.

Anonymous said...

ACA is about cost shifting from healthy to sick; from old to young; from female to male; from insured to uninsured. Insured county employees are being asked to pick up a share of ACA's cost of providing coverage to millions of previously uninsured. Everybody is getting a portion of the bill to insure the previously uninsured. That's why the Obama administration has been besieged with requests for exemptions. The employer mandate will never be enacted. The money had to come from somewhere. If you're not politically connected, it's likely coming from you.

Also, the term "better" was used by Bernie to describe employers. In a public employee relationship, taxpayers are the betters of public employees, according to Bernie. Most are not any better. But they are goose that is being asked to lay golden eggs - by everybody.

Anonymous said...

Amen to 1245am! You hit the nail on the head!

Anonymous said...

The new new is everybody gets coverage and everybody gets a shitty plan. If you already had a plan, your plan gets shittier. If you were previously uninsured, you're welcome.

I don't hate anybody or begrudge anybody based on their type of work. I'd like to fix my plan before fixing others' that I must fund, however. Unless you just got a free ACA plan, you're probably seeing your plan cost increase to pay for all the newly insured. Is this a surprise to anybody?

Anonymous said...

By shittier, I mean your cost goes up because you're required to carry coverage for things you'll never require - like OB-GYN for old folks.

Anonymous said...

"That's exactly what I am saying. Your world sucks, so you want everyone's world to suck.

When your boss sees that the government can get away with treating employees like shit, he'll screw you even more. Don't you see the stupidity of your own position?

This is why our middle class is going away."

Bernie - Respectfully...what do these county employees want? It's to keep their benefits (AND get raises from what I am reading). No one wants the County Workers to suffer, but if they get everything they want, the money is going to have to come from higher taxes - meaning that private sector employee who has awful benefits and is barely squeaking by (with all the other taxes they are paying) is going to have to pay MORE money for someone else to have better benefits then they do. The private sector suffers at the expense of the public sector.

You expect the private person to feel sympathy for the public sector person, and I think they do. But they don't feel so much sympathy that they want to go broke in the process. Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

Well said, 4:45. And when obnoxious public employees are baited by angry taxpayers to ridicule the hand that feeds them, it creates polarization. There are good people in both employment pools who are struggling with stagnant wages and increasing benefits costs. The wealth gap has widened and accelerated in the last few years and the world is changing. Public sector employment ain't what it used to be and neither is private sector employment unless you own an oil company or act in movies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The public employeeis asking for no more than what you should be getting - fairness. Your view is actually the majority view. Most people out there, not just you, say "welcome to the real world. " Most of you have little sympathy, especially bc your taxes pay for these public employees. But you're only hurting yourself. As their wages and benefits are reduced, your employers will use that as an excuse to reduce your wages and benefits even more. That is why our middle class is zhrinking. That is why the economy can recover but nobody notices. All the money is being taken by a select few. It is time for that to stop. The public employee should be a model held out to the private employer. It is time for us all to demand fair wages and benefits. It is time for private sector unions to begin reasserting themselves. When you shit on the public worker, you are really shitting on yourself. You don't see this now, but you will.

Anonymous said...

pull the entire plan and let them buy Obamacare
notice government workers want equality when it means getting what the rich have, but how about wanting equal with what the non rich private sector have
cut their pay send them home

Bernie O'Hare said...

Someone just pushed the idiot button again. Shout Obama and claim all public workers suck and will continue to suck unless they have shitty wages and benefits like you. They are not your enemy. The people who fail to pay you are your enemy. If you thought about this, you'd insist on better treatment for them and start demanding it for yourself. Start thinking. Quit parroting.

Anonymous said...

I would welcome that! Since the State pays 95% of my salary and benefits then I would come out cheaper than to fund Brown's beat health plan.

Where is the money going the State puts in? If a county employee in human services is already paying 5% of his salary into his health insurance and the State is paying 95% well that equals 100% of the cost. Seems to me that workers in Human Services already are covered in full.

I think the State needs to come in and take a look at how the county is doing business and where there money is going. Seems it is not going to the health benefits.

Fact is in 2012, the county was healthier and cost less. Human Services had an excess of money because of that. That money was used to cover Aging waiver service for 3 months till it was privatized.

As one reads the budget healthcare is on broken down under several line items. Seems to be specialized accounting work, as accountants for business usually have salaries and benefits be two lines items one for each.

Anonymous said...

The State needs to investigate the County and their healthcare. Paying 95% salary and benefits and hearing that the county is charging 13,200 to the worker as they are self pay not only dosent add up buts sounds illegal.

Anonymous said...

We can thank Obama Care for all this confusion, private companies are going the same way. Government employees are just spoiled they need to really do studies and figure out how many employees they really need to do a job. We really need to look at the elected officials and their benefits it's out of hand.

Anonymous said...

The November elections will be a great indicator of just what We The People really think ... as compared to just taking an obviously biased BO's word for it.

Anonymous said...

Comparing lehigh and Northampton is like comparing the ny Yankees to the lv iron pigs. It's apples and oranges. Ask the state in terms of human services. Lehigh runs far superior services across the board. Case in point, lehigh had a nicely paid woman who never impressed anyone. She made her share of mistakes. Lehigh could take or leave her but Northampton could wait to take her. In the last year Northampton had a senior mgr in human services leave, there are people at lehigh 2 levels beneath this person and they would have had to take a 10 k pay cut to go to Norfolk

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't another way to look at this be the difference between county taxes residents pay. The millage rate for Lehigh County is 3.79. The millage rate for Northampton County is 10.80.

Two sides.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No. It's not the mileage, but the bill. Both counties are about the same.

Anonymous said...

What are you trying to say @8:04?

Anonymous said...

Should have voted for John Callahan

Anonymous said...

And to those of us that did?

Grow up son

Anonymous said...

Read the piece in the sunday morning call CEOs in america make 350 percent more than the average worker. The highest difference in the world! wake up america, we need a change!

Anonymous said...

The exodus in the county has already begun, the director of corrections is leaving at the end of the year because of Mr. Brown's policies and the treatment of his employees. Mr. Matos is an honest man who wants the best for those who work under him and won't sit back and watch the destruction of the work force on his watch. I would assume Mr. Matos will give plenty of interviews once he retires about how the county is being run into the ground by this administration. 2 possibly 3 administrators at the prison will be retiring early because of this fool.

Anonymous said...

Oh and let's remember this isn't a non-union vs union issue, in fact it has a greater effect on non-union employees.

Anonymous said...

Read the piece in the sunday morning call CEOs in america make 350 percent more than the average worker. The highest difference in the world! wake up america, we need a change!

Anonymous said...

Since the prison has always been full of freeloading goldbricker administrators it is no loss.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The above comment was likely made by Mezzacappa.

I will confirm what is being said tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I worked as and retired as a Corrections Officer for Lehigh County. The difference is night and day. Salary for one which in my senior position accounted for more then almost a 5 per hr. difference between a Sr. Officer at Norco, and benefits as you can see are much better. I would NEVER work for Northampton County.

Anonymous said...

If most employees of Northampton County are really making 20k a year they should be able to qualify for welfare and other benefits free from the state? Not trying to be a wise ass but it seems possible.

Anonymous said...

Bernie as of 10/7/14 the three administrators leaving due to the tyrant in the courthouse are as follows James Fritchman retiring in mid-October, Arnold Matos leaving at the end of the year, and Todd Buskirk leaving in April of 2015. This is just the beginning, many more are awaiting their retiremnet quotes. Its a bad and possibly dangerous situation.

Anonymous said...

What really needs to be discussed here is the premium that an employer pays per individual, 2-person plan and for family coverage. That puts it in perspective. I'm not saying I agree w/Brown's changes--b/c for the life of me, I can't figure out what they are from all this caterwauling--but the reason employers make changes to health insurance is b/c the premium is CRAZY expensive. I work at a non-profit and my employer just can't keep paying it b/c it keeps going up and up and up for the same plan. My guess is that it's not much different w/the county.

Anonymous said...

The November elections will be a great indicator of just what We The People really think ... as compared to just taking an obviously biased BO's word for it.

Yes, just disregard the Presidential election in 2012 where the President got overwhelmingly re-elected running on his platform of health care reform. Better to use the mid terms as a guide where you get a fraction of the turnout, right?

Anonymous said...

The exodus is not just happening at the prison. Northampton County Children and Youth is losing at least two top spots, maybe three, and lots of staff with 30 or so years of experience. Hard to make up that kind of knowledge at one time. All leaving by December due to changes in medical coverage. They can't even get quotes tho because so many are asking for them and they can't get interviews about leaving because only one person is doing that and is too busy to handle all the people leaving. And the head of Human Resources left which should tell you something too. I hope the children and families of this county remain safe with the mass of staff leaving Children and Youth. So sad.

Anonymous said...

@901 am. The County is self pay. So they have no premium. They just have CBC administer claims and the rate.

Anonymous said...

@1024pm. I agree 100%