Our press release

praising the county supervisors for their proposal to cut healthcare subsidies for a subset of retirees resulted in anticipated flack from a few individuals. Here’s what one of our members had to say:

I agree that the County and the City need to do something about lowering their health care cost burden, but this is about the most uncreative way I can think of doing it. Instead they should be trying to find ways to buy cheaper health care coverage or try to increase the size of the risk pool, which would lower the premium.

I can’t deny that this member’s comments raised an excellent question: What has the county of San Diego and city of San Diego done to lower their health care cost burden?

Well, I’ve forwarded this question to the appropriate folks at the county and city and hopefully, I’ll be able to share their responses with you today.

In the meanwhile, let’s compare and contrast the healthcare benefits available to employees at the county and city.

According to the city’s FY 07 Budget , all eligible (basically, everyone except hourly employees) employees can spend $5,575 towards a cafeteria-style benefits program.

This allows young, single employees to sign up for healthcare at a low rate and collect the rest as cash. But for a police officer with a husband and two children, she pays out of pocket.

Now get this: the city offers a total of nine health plans, nine dental plans and three vision plans. Of the nine health plans, six are HMOs and three are PPOs. I’m told the deductibles vary by plan, and according to a former employee, the co-pay was $5 as recently as one year ago. My guess is it hasn’t changed.

So, how does the county compare? The county offers two healthcare plans – Kaiser (HMO) and PacifiCare’s point of service plan, which is essentially a hybrid of a HMO and PPO. The co-pay is $15 for both plans.

The county does not offer a cafeteria plan. Coverage varies by bargaining unit and number of dependents. But the figures in the accompanying table can be considered rough averages:

I’ll let you soak this information in, while I prepare my next post. Oh, and it looks like I just received a response from the county of San Diego’s Human Resources Director. More to follow…

Correction: An earlier version of this post listed incorrect information in the table. It has since been corrected.


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