Jackson County’s management team rejected an $870,000 per year cost saving proposal on Monday that would wrap county employees into the Public Employee Benefits Board healthcare plan.
“Moving to PEBB is one of those rare win-wins,” said Del Hackwoth, a county employee and member of the bargaining team. “Employees need a healthcare plan we can actually afford to use, which PEBB offers, and the county needs a plan that fits their budget.”
By rejecting the proposal, management is neglecting a large cost saving opportunity, and could delay collective bargaining negotiations with employees who will not settle a contract that fails to address healthcare.
The current healthcare plan is so expensive that many county employees cannot use it. With a $2,250 deductible and $6,750 out-of-pocket max for a family plan, many low-wage workers chose to skip doctor’s visits or use public assistance to pay for healthcare. Mercer, a management consulting firm, provided an independent analysis of the Jackson County healthcare plan and the PEBB healthcare plan, which found that the PEBB plans provide superior benefits at a lower cost to employees. That analysis is available here.
During bargaining sessions with employees, Jackson County officials have proposed paying $1708.16 per employee per month toward insurance, under the County’s current plan. The employee bargaining team has offered a proposal that would have the county pay $1550 per employee per month to PEBB, which is a savings of $870,000 per year.
A wage analysis by SEIU 503 found that Jackson County employees earn 13 to 28% less than comparable workers in other counties. We believe the savings created by switching to the PEBB plan should go toward improving employee salaries.