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November 3, 2013

Franklin County's health costs growing

MALONE — Franklin County will pay $1 million more in health-insurance costs in 2014, which means benefit recipients will have to pay more, too. 

And if costs continue to climb in the next several years, as experts predict, the county may have to stop offering health coverage to some of its retirees.

Also, starting next year, some retirees will pay more because they have not been charged enough for medical coverage the past three years.

And others may find cheaper insurance if they explore alternatives like the Excellus Advantage Medicare plan, which could save participants $50 a month, and provisions in the federal government’s Affordable Care Act.

Informational sessions will be held in November for those who have questions about their coverage options, but no dates have been set.

PAY SCHEDULE

During a special meeting Monday, legislators adopted a new pay schedule for active union and jail-union employees, retirees younger than age 65 and retirees 65 and older.

Active United Public Service Employees union members, which include about 500 county workers, contribute 10 percent toward their health insurance, and new hires pay 15 percent.

Jail employees pay 10 percent for health-care coverage, but they do not have a new contract with the county and are not under the same medical plan as the larger union.

The county tried to bring the sheriff’s union into the larger union’s health plan during negotiations for a new contract, and the union approved that move.

But legislators rejected the pact because of a new category for hazard pay that would have included what they said was an unacceptable 4.5 percent raise the final year.

Discussions now go to a factfinder, and a recommended settlement will be offered.

RATE CHANGES

In the meantime, the county budget needs to be adopted and final health-insurance numbers plugged in before the spending plan goes before the public.

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