Mon August 5, 2013
Sheboygan County Considers Moving Retirees To Federal Health Exchanges
Wisconsin's Sheboygan County is considering shifting health care costs for retired city workers to the coming federal health care exchange, now being implemented under the Affordable Care Act.
It's a strategy being considered by bankrupt Detroit and other counties in states including California and Illinois.
As Sheboygan County puts together a spending plan for next year, one cost looms large: health care. Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne says they've tried to keep costs down with an employee wellness center, as well as by having workers contribute more for coverage and by privatizing some county services.
Another cost cutting move is to stop funding health care of county retirees. The expectation is that retirees could get coverage online, through the federal marketplace. “Our goal here,” says Payne, “is to explore alternatives and see if we can develop a win-win situation. There is no desire on the county board or in Sheboygan County just to cut the ties with retirees.”
Payne says there is no formal agreement under which three dozen retirees can count on county-subsidized health care. “There isn't any expectation that Sheboygan County is going to provide health insurance for retirees in perpetuity.”
Payne says health insurance costs have stabilized somewhat, but the county's still paying nearly $750,000 to cover retirees. “We've been striving to hold the line on property taxes for quite some time here,” Payne says, “and of course now with the state (spending) caps in place it’s even more challenging.”
Payne says the proposal to shift county retirees to the online health insurance market would depend on something they can't control: whether the federal marketplace is up and running by October as planned.