County Board Considering Health Coverage Changes

Almost two hours was spent by the McHenry County Human Services and Finance & Audit Committees discussing proposals for next year’s health coverage for non-union employees.

At issue was about a $20 million budget item.

Under proposals outlined by Cheryl Chukwu, those covered directly by the County benefit plan would cost taxpayers about $300,000 more than this year.

(Unionized Operating Engineers are not in the County plan. The County writes a check for about $750,000 a year to the union health benefit plan.)

Cheryl Chukwu explained proposed changes in the health care benefits plan.

Cheryl Chukwu explained proposed changes in the health care benefits plan.

Without the suggested changes, costs were estimated to increase about 11%.

So, what are the suggested changes, which the Human Services Committee has already approved?

New non-union employees would be required to have only one option.

They would be put in a high deductible plan.

The first $2,500 would be paid by the employee.

However, for the time being, there would be $500 given to a single employee, and $1,000 given to a family Health Savings Account.

There would also be an accident plan backup plan to be paid for by the County.

One goal is to increase the employees knowledge of what health care benefits cost and how they can help control them.

The goal of the attempt to migrate employees to the high deductible plan is to increase their awareness of what health care benefits cost.

For example, if an MRI is needed, there are various places where one can get one.

They are not all priced the same.

One organization may change $5,000 and another charge $500 for the same test.

The only other change is for doctor’s visits for HMO members.

They will go from $10 to $20.

Michael Rein explains some of the details of the health care proposal.

Michael Rein explains some of the details of the health care proposal.

Employees would continue to pay 15% of the cost for those without dependents and 20% of the cost for those with dependents.

The average cost of health coverage for County employees is $17,500, according to Human Services Committee member Michael Rein.

The average health care in the country is about $9,000, he said.

“We really have to start changing what we do,” he said.

The current PPO plan for 2017 will cost about $34,480 for family coverage.

The High Deductible Health Plan, which is also a PPO plan, will cost about $23,970 for family coverage.

Chuck Wheeler expresses frustration at the restrictions imposed by the Federal government.

Chuck Wheeler expresses frustration at the restrictions imposed by the Federal government.

Finance Committee member Chuck Wheeler, an insurance agent, observed,

“We can’t discriminate against fat people.

“Smokers are people, too.

“The current [Federal] Administration comes in and says, ‘We’re all equal.'”

Also in play is the possibility that the Obamacare “Cadillac Tax” will come into play in the future.

Diane Evertsen said she did not see a plan to deal with that four years from now.

Donna Kurtz pointed out that in spite of the high cost of coverage, “We have a very unhealthy population.”

She pointed to high rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

“We are getting gold plated prices, but getting substandard health,” Kurtz continued.

“Our taxpayers don’t have anything like this.”

Wheeler pointed out that most employers look at the lowest priced plan as the “base plan.”

Those wishing higher coverage have to “buy up.”

County Administrator Peter Austin said he hopes forty current employees will migrate to this high deductible plan. He believes the plan will be so attractive that union employees will want to participate in future years.

“We can’t continue to have a PPO plan that costs $29,000 a year,” Austin explained.  “It is more than the Cadillac Tax.

“Our program is better than 90% of the plans in the whole country.”

“This puts us on a path for be sustainability,” added Human Resources Committee Chairman John Jung.

“You have to start somewhere or you’re going to be like the State and legislature and keep giving benefits you can’t pay for,” he added.


County Board Considering Health Coverage Changes — 10 Comments

  1. Most private sector companies essentially standardize the subsidy (the part the employer pays) and allow the employee the opportunity to pay more for better plans. This seems straightforward enough and drives the additional cost to the consumer.

    Why not implement something like that?

    Also popular in the private sector are incentive to improve your health.

    Health coaches, diabetes management programs, smoking cessation and weight loss incentives, etc.

    Can we implement some of these to drive the risk (and cost) down?

  2. All government health plans and benefits should follow private industry practices; if a person does not like it they can look for another job; same way in the private industry.

  3. (Unionized Operating Engineers are not in the County plan. The County writes a check for about $750,000 a year to the union health benefit plan.)

    Well, then I guess the question should be how do we get the Union vermin scum out of our county bureaucracy?

    If our county government is willing to spend $50k a pop on consultants for frivolities, why not spend that much on a consultant who could really lower the bottom line?

    I would recommend Jackson Lewis, but I’m sure that if our kleptocrarats need to divert the business to a friend that someone knows that they can find someone’s second-cousin who specializes in it.

  4. Stating a labor union is not vermin scum hardly makes one a shill.


    What IUOE Local 150 health benefit plan receives funds from the McHenry County?

    Midwest Operating Engineers (MOE) Health & Welfare Fund?

  5. All public sector labor unions are vermin, parasitic scum.

    Even if you view private-sector unions as tolerable, public sector unions are much more sinister.


    I can think of at least two reasons:

    1. There’s no such thing as a fair negotiation with a public sector union because they can bribe management (in the form of political contributions) to go easy on them.

    I haven’t tallied it up, but I’d wager that Local 150 is the single largest contributor to county-level campaigns.

    How do you expect for there to be a fair negotiation when the party on the other side of the table can slip the persons negotiating on behalf of the employer $5,000 each?

    2. There’s no check on public-sector union demands.

    Every private sector union knows that they can’t demand too much because they’ll end up killing the company and their jobs.

    There’s no such check on public sector unions because they know taxpayers are effectively a blank check for the taking.

    That’s why you see such ludicrous benefits in the public sector like 100% final salary 30-and-out pensions.

    Honestly, is any bureaucrat’s job so taxing on their body that they deserve to or have to retire at 55?

    You liberals like to talk about being on the wrong side of history.

    What does it say that even FDR, your patron saint, thought that public sector unions were despicable and a grave threat to democracy?

  6. The unions are not vermin parasitic scum because of the laws.

    The politicians made the laws.

    The Federal and State laws make a big difference.

    Federal laws for example prohibit fees to a union as a mandatory condition of employment (Right to Work).

    State laws vary on that.

    Illinois state law is if a bargaining unit covers the position, fees must be paid to that bargaining unit.

    So, lobby to make Illinois collective bargaining law more like Federal or Right to Work states in that regard.

    Some form of that is in the Rauner Administration’s Turnaround Agenda.

    Also, the Illinois State Board of Elections website could be more user friendly so it is easier for people to learn about the contributions from anyone to any politician.

    So, lobby for reform to the SBE website.


    Do you mean legal or illegal slip of $5,000 to a negotiator.


    What pension is 30 and out with 100% of final salary?

    Not many of the 19 Articles in the Illinois Pension Code, + CHA to make it 20 pension “types”, would have that benefit.

    Certainly some of the benefits are too generous, so they should be scaled back.

    A subject I have written about endlessly.

    I am hardly a liberal.

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