Ventura County Board of Supervisors Approves Health Care Plan Costing $5.1 Million
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve a health care plan for members of three unions representing county employees that will cost $5.1 million this fiscal year, up from $3.2 million last year, the Ventura County Star reports (Ventura County Star, 9/29). Under labor contracts with Service Employees International Union Local 998, Ventura County Sheriff's Correctional Officers Association and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, the county pays 100% of health insurance costs for 1,637 workers enrolled in the county's PacifiCare HMO plan. Employees who choose PacifiCare's preferred provider organization plan or a county plan do not receive subsidized health benefits.
Because PacifiCare raised premiums by 14.9%, the county's total health coverage bill will increase by $1.9 million, or 58.8%. County administrators anticipated an increase in insurance rates, but they are unsure how to pay for about $900,000 of the increase. HMO premiums have risen by double-digit percentages "nearly every year" in recent years because of increased use of medical services and rising prescription drug costs, the Star reports.
County Supervisor Steve Bennett said increasing health care costs are an issue that the county and unions will "have to address in the future, as will everybody in this country" (Levin, Ventura County Star, 9/28).