FILE -- La Crosse County Administrative Center

La Crosse County Administrative Center

La Crosse County employees will pay 2 percent more of their health insurance premiums in 2016, the first such increase in five years.

The county will shift to paying 88 percent of the premium, while employees will pay 12 percent, the same split as the state. The monthly premium starting in January will be $735 for single coverage and $1,800 for family.

That means single coverage will cost $44.10 per paycheck, family coverage $108, compared with about $36 and $88 this year, county officials said.

The county, which is self-insured, had been able to keep premiums level until now in part by setting higher deductibles, which in 2015 rose to $1,250 for a single person and $2,500 for family care within network, county Administrator Steve O’Malley said.

But premium costs on average in the market have gone up 6.5 percent during that time, O’Malley said, making it unsustainable without a rate increase even with adjustments to the deductible amounts.

“All good things,” he told the La Crosse County Board on Thursday, “must end.”

County public safety employees will continue to pay 10 percent of the premium and the county 90 percent through 2016, as part of its bargained benefits, O’Malley said.

Three board supervisors insured through the county plan will continue to receive coverage through April 2016 paying 55 percent of the premium, but that must stop after the current term ends, O’Malley said. The Affordable Care Act stipulates the county must make insurance available to all part-time employees — classified as those working less than 30 hours a week — or none.

While the county will pay $3,969 to extend those benefits through April, it only seemed fair not to remove something that was in place when the supervisors came into office, O’Malley said.

Supervisor Brian Logue’s amendment to require supervisors pay the entire premium failed on a 7-12 vote, with Laurence Berg, Ray Ebert, Dan Hesse, Hubert Hoffman, Dave Holtze, Robert Keil and Logue in the minority. Six board members abstained: Vicki Burke, Dan Ferries, Ralph Geary, Mike Giese, Sharon Hampson and Roger Plesha.

The measure then passed 17-1, with only Hesse opposed. Six again abstained, but this time Giese voted while Hoffman did not.

The county board also unanimously approved adding e-cigarettes to the list of tobacco-related products that can’t be used in or around La Crosse County structures.

The ordinance change prohibits all types of smoking — including “vaping” — as well as smokeless tobacco from all county buildings, vehicles, park shelters and within 20 feet of doorways on county property.

The e-cigarette devices vaporize a liquid, often laced with nicotine, so it can be inhaled like a traditional cigarette or cigar but without the smoke.

The ordinance does not bar the public from using tobacco or e-cigarettes in outdoor areas of county parks.

Under the change, county employees also cannot smoke in their personal vehicles when transporting someone on county business, such as a social worker taking a child home.

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(11) comments

random annoying bozo

the county should stop offering health insurance, and the county employees should go to the obamacare exchanges to get their insurance. if obamacare is all it's cracked up to be, county workers would most probably laud the county for giving them the honor of being covered by obamacare.

Sal Yodada

Well Obamacare isn't all it is cracked up to be is it? And don't assume that all people working for the government are "on board" with any certain, particular, or single party or other's agenda. Some hate politics altogether and would be more than happy to get partisan politics OUT of government work altogether. Some government functions are necessary and some aren't. Some should be private sector, but not all realistically can or will. If there isn't a profit to be made, the private sector won't touch it. And I'm pretty sure the Tea Party types are in favor of profits for anything being paid for with tax dollars.

jharrimjr

CP, more Clownservative envy? Go work for the County if you're that jealous of their employees.

CJ

Good morning to my biggest fan Jhar, no jealousy here just looking at the math it is certainly a sweet deal.

CJ

Some steep premium numbers there I find it hard to believe there can be much, if any, out of pocket cost to an employee. Pretty sweet deal to get 88% paid by taxes.

Zetame

Yea, because the $1800 premium and $2500 deductible aren't "out of pocket" expenses. Genius.

CJ

And your insurance background is what? If their premiums are factored that high there should be maybe a $5 drug copay and $10-20 for a doctor visit. It would take a great # of trips to the doctor to hit a large out of pocket cost. If this is not the case then these employees would be better off having the county go with Mayo or Gundersen instead of trying to be "private". Even with a surgery or another high dollar event they will spend nowhere near what most families pay simply in premium cost alone.

yourewrong

Still paying 12% is a very good deal for them, better than pretty much everybody besides state employees.

They still do go through Gundersen/Mayo, its just set up differently so rather than the county paying premiums, they pay an administration fee and claims.

Sal Yodada

The county workers have a choice between Mayo or Gundersen. The Gunderson insurance is the same Gundersen Health plan as anyone else that has it with a few minor group plan negotiated differences. Just like any insurance, the deductible must be met before bills are covered. The full negotiated price under the group plan for any visit or procedure is billed to the patient before the insurance covers any expenses not pre-negotiated such as a wellness visit or vaccine. Most trips to the doctor incur some cost up front. Once the deductible is met, THEN the co-pay kicks in (county workers pay 20% until a $3000 to $4500 max out of pocket is met.) Prescription meds are $25 to $45 co-pay for 30 day supply depending on formulary. As far as premiums, they are a handsome benefit, but under the ACA marketplace subsidies are based on FAMILY INCOME which very from family to family. You have to compare apples to apples.

CJ your are grossly misinformed, but then again this is the Trib (and county.)

CJ

Sal I'm far from misinformed :) I own Gundersen coverage for my family, have been health licensed for over 20 years and also able to market for various exchange and non exchange listed providers in Wisconsin. Looking at the group rate premiums listed in this article I still have a hard time seeing that an office visit or trip to the drug store does not have a simple $10-20 co-pay like all the other Gundersen plans I have seen........I would have a hard time believing they pay full cost until they meet a deductible especially for a government plan.

CJ

Very good deal then if they have Gundersen. I see typical silver plan for Gundersen on a husband & wife run in the $800-900 a month range or more depending on deductible. On the other side I see young people with parents that don't have them on a policy paying Gundersen $200 a month or more if they do not receive a subsidy.

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