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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Health Care Costs For Taxpayers

County Board, Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

The cost of health care has been talked about for years as we all have watched the premium rates for health insurance climb higher and higher.  Much of the discussion has centered on insurance companies since they are the entities that increase the premiums and collect money from those who have the policies.  Some of the discussion has centered on entities within the health care system that build new hospitals in the backyards of other systems’ existing hospitals.  Very little discussion has dealt with employers that have “solved" the problem of rising health care costs which, along with utilization, is the driver for increased insurance premiums.

Among the employers in this area who have “solved” the problem is Serigraph located in West Bend, and its president John Torinus.  His story is being told in the new book titled “The Company That Solved Health Care” which he authored.

Among the employers in this area that haven’t “solved” health care is Washington County.  It isn’t alone, obviously, but it does exist on our tax dollars and that makes it a suitable target for reform efforts.  Other convenient targets are the school systems in the area that are still relying on the WEA Insurance Trust program for coverage for bargained employees.  Those are subjects for another blog.

Back to the County; it actually managed to reduce costs for health coverage and that is good.  Employees pay about 15% of the cost and the County pays the balance, so a cost reduction is certainly going in the right direction.

But…the cost for family coverage is still nearly $21,000 per year per family.  So the employee with family coverage pays something in the range of $3,100 per year while the County pays nearly $18,000 per year for that family unit.  Many taxpayers would like to earn $18,000 per year let alone have health plans that cost that much.

This is especially interesting when you consider that Serigraph, The Company That Solved Health Care, which operates in the county seat of Washington County, has an annual family plan cost of some $9,000 per family per year.  The plans may differ in coverage but if those plans are good enough for the Serigraph employees and for its president, isn’t it possible that similar programs could be instituted for the county’s employees?

I suspect that an elected County Executive form of governance for Washington County might cause these kinds of things to be a bit more visible than they seem to be today.  And higher visibility might cause a higher degree of reform than the very modest reductions in cost that occurred this time around.

By the way, Manitowoc County, with an elected County Executive, has also gone a long way toward “solving” its health care cost issues.

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