Health Benefit Costs for Contra Costa County Retirees Increased By More Than 127% Over Five Years, Report Finds
The cost of retiree health insurance for former Contra Costa county employees has increased by more than 127% over the last five years, according to a report released Friday by the county grand jury, the Contra Costa Times reports. According to the report, the county pays 75% to nearly 100% of retirees' health insurance premiums, with some retirees paying as little as one cent monthly. The report found that expanded pension benefits approved by the county Board of Supervisors in 2002 and the board's support of early retirement for county workers likely will compound costs, in part because "[y]ounger retirees will remain on the rolls for a longer time before they qualify for Medicare."
The grand jury report recommended that county supervisors immediately reduce health benefits for retirees not covered by union contracts and increase retirees' contribution to health insurance premium costs. Supervisor Gayle Uilkema said that the report raises an important issue that the board should consider further, the Times reports. Uilkema said that reducing retirees' benefits "can greatly affect" their quality of life, adding that "the benefit becomes a matter of life and death." Roland Katz, supervising business agency for Public Employees Union Local 1, said that the report does not suggest the need to immediately reduce benefits. He added, "Our health care problems are a national problem and need to be addressed on a national level. They won't be solved one employer at a time or through any single labor negotiation" (Felsenfeld, Contra Costa Times, 5/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.